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Of P»»^0» WARS 

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15th September, 1853. 

Our excellent friend the Ai'clideacon, whose invita- 
tion has brought me hither, will, I trust, make the 
requisite apology for such an intrusion of a total 
stranger among you. But stranger as I am, there is 
one fact concerning myself which I must already have 
succeeded in communicating to all who see or hear me. 
It is the fact that I have numbered many years. So' 
many indeed are they, that I have hved to witness all, 
except the earliest scenes, of that dark tragedy of 
which France has so long been the stage; and the 
whole progress of the corresponding drama of which, 
during the last twenty-five years, England has been 
the theatre. Strange, indeed, have been the contrasts 
between the two revolutions. 

In France this part of the Divine counsels has been 
carried into effect by the stretched-out arm of the 


Angel of desolation and of death. In England it has 
been committed to the ministration of the Angel of 
mercy. There the overthroi^ijQif iXj^asties and of In- 
stitutions has again and again served only to conduct 
the Insurgent people to some new forms of despotic 
Government. Here an unbroken series of bold ex- 
periments for renovating all the popular elements of 
pur commonwealth, and for reconstructing almost every 
branch of our National Polity, has left us still in the 
undistm'bed possession of the solemn trust, and high 
responsibihties, of freedom. It is a trust to be exe- 
cuted in the spirit of gratitude, of vigilance, of humihty, 
and of self-control. 

For if the contrasts between the two histories be 
marvellous, they have also some admonitory coinci- 
dences. In France, in the reign of Louis XV. the 
Present was at war with the Past. New dogmas con- 
fronted the old traditions. Zealots for the one were in 
hostile array against Zealots for the other. But the 
sword was stiU unsheathed, and the guillotine had 
not as yet been erected. It was the day for calm de- 
bate and peaceful arbitrament; and the controversial- 
ists on either side accordingly invoked pubhc opinion 
as the legitimate umpire between them. They by 
whom this appeal was chiefly made, were the master 
spirits of that age: Montesquieu, Voltaire, D'Alem- 
bert, Diderot, Helvitius, and Rousseau. They to 
whom the appeal was chiefly addressed were the 
majority (the effective, that is, not the numerical ma- 
jority) of the French people — the men of active minds, 
of ardent tempers, and of persuasive discourse — the 


men each of whom in his own city, canton, or village, 
ruled over his neighbours in right of his superior force 
of intellect, or of his greater energy of will. But this 
natural Aristocracy, aspiring and audacious as it was, 
could hardly undertake to pronounce any oracular 
decision in favour of any doctrines whatever. Public 
opinion could not express itself through such lips as 
theirs, because they were at that time almost univer- 
sally labouring under a profound, and, as it might 
have seemed, an incurable ignorance of all the ques- 
tions in dispute. To quahfy them for such an adjudi- 
cation, it was necessary that some royal road to learn- 
ing should be hewn out for them. 

That arduous task was undertaken by the Propa- 
gandists of the new Doctrines. Those eminent writers 
(to use the language of Bacon) " took all knowledge for 
their province," and the astonished world had to gaze 
on a strange revolution in the literature of Europe, 
before it was alarmed by revolution in the European 
Governments. Every subject of human inquiry, how- 
ever abstruse, was daily interpreted by some Author, 
either already known, or till then unknown, to fame. 
Laying aside her ancient, austere, and venerable garb, 
learning appeared in dresses as hght, as gay, and as 
ephemeral as those which fluttered in the drawing- 
rooms of Paris. The Pocket Duodecimo usurped the 
place of the ponderous Folio. Reading became a 
favourite recreation, instead of an arduous and self-deny- 
ing duty. Every science and every art was converted 
from a severe study into an exhilarating entertainment. 
Grammar, Logic, Metaphysics, History, Philosophy^ 


and even Religion were rendered familiar, easy, epi- 
grammatic, and amusing. With many books in their 
hands, and many words in their mouths, the men of that 
generation had few facts in their memories, few con- 
clusions in their understandings, and few, if any, high 
purposes in their soids. Between such a hterature, and 
whatever was arrogant, disloyal, impious, and impure, 
the aUiance was immediate and complete. It gave 
birth to a talk like that of Babel, and prepared the 
way for a ruin hke that of Babylon. The " Gipsy 
jargon " of the Convention was but a new edition of 
those ready-made substitutes for real knowledge, of 
which the authors of the French Encyclopaedia had 
been the inventors. Never did presumptuous ignorance 
so completely assume the tone, imitate the gait, and 
usurp the authority of wisdom. 

For this mass of falsely pretended knowledge we 
shall happily find no parallel amongst ourselves, so 
long as we look only to our legitimate intellectual 
rulers; to our men of genius and philosophy, to our 
Hallams, and Grotes, and Macaulays, to our Hamiltons, 
and Whe wells, and FaiTadays. No writers were ever 
more sternly opposed to whatever is plausible, spe- 
cious, and superficial merely, or more implacable an- 
tagonists of all that is either profane, or anarchical, or 
impure. A passing smile may perhaps now and then 
be provoked by those rapid circumnavigators of the 
whole world of learning upon which some of them will 
occasionally embark; but we feel that this is but an 
amiable weakness, a sort of elephantine gambol, the 
mere riot of gigantic strength, perfectly harmless to 


themselves and others, and always associated in their 
own minds with the most unaffected humility. But I am 
not sure that the fashion of literary omniscience, when 
it descends lower down in the scale of intellect and of 
learning, is equally inoffensive. I douht whether our pre- 
valent hahit of reading, of speculating, and of talking 
ahout every conceivahle suhject of investigation, can 
adjust itself more safely in England than it adjusted 
itself in France, to the augmented responsihihties sl\- 
tendant on the vast and sudden increase which has 
been made in our poHtical franchises, and in our col- 
lective and individual authority in the State, It is a 
habit which has made no shght advance amongst us. 
With such of us as can afford the money and the 
leisure, it is an almost daily practice (I confess it to 
be my own) to animate our breakfast tables by a 
canter in the Times over all the topics of the day — 
that is, over all the pubhc affairs of all nations, of all 
trades, of all literary and scientific associations, of all 
the Htigants in our causes celebreSy and of all other 
noticeable people amongst us. Nor do we conclude 
that morning exercise without at least a glance at the 
crowded columns in which the great journalist an- 
nounces the birth of new books, conceived in every form 
and embracing every subject, the best adapted at once 
to stimulate the appetite for reading, and to abridge the 
toil of patient inquiry. This pleasant morning office 
over, the Londoner (I find that I am placing myself 
in the Confessional) may walk down to his club, there 
to contemplate, and to marvel at the pyramids of re- 
views, of magazines, and of such like aids to literary 


digestion wliicli rise, from table to taWe, along the 
entire length of those spacious saloons. If his stroll 
is completed hy a call at the reading-room of the 
British Musemn, he observes that among the hooks 
carried by the Mercmy of the place to the students 
there, small indeed is the number calculated to put 
any strain upon theii' thinking powers. Om- critic 
then, perchance leaving London for some other part 
of these islands, admires on each successive railway 
platform the bookstalls of one and another Mr. Smith, 
(for the book trade is running into a Smithery among 
us,) rich in what are called Works for the Million, rich 
that is in Travellers' Libraries, in the Miscellanies of 
Constable, in the Journals of Chambers, in Penny Ma- 
gazines, in Pocket Cyclopaedias, in Readings for the 
Rail, in Hand-books and Romances, in the Beauties 
of this writer, in the Wit of that, in the Wisdom of 
another, and in some one or more of the hundred and 
odd volumes in which the Histoiy of France may now 
be read in the shape of so many consecutive Novels. 
Descending at length from his train, our imaginary 
traveller finds in whatever town he reaches (as indeed 
he might have found in London) notices of Lectui'es 
to be dehvered on every art or science of which Francis 
Bacon ascertained the state or anticipated the progress 
— ^nay ! is perhaps engaged to dehver such a lecture 
himself. At the commencement of it may he ventui-e 
(cautiously and respectfully) to inquire whether this 
confederacy of the Newspapers, the Magazines, the 
Clubs, the Reading-rooms, the Railways, and the Lec- 
tures, to render all of us knowing and wise at the 


smallest possible expenditure of mental labour, will 
really qualify us for any of tlie serious duties of life, 
and especially for tbe vigilant, tbe humble, and the 
self-denying exercise of the new powers wliich we 
have derived from the English Revolution of the nine- 
teenth century? 

You will not, I am sure, do me the injustice to sup- 
pose that these doubts are suggested by any failure of 
respect for the persons, or of interest in the studies 
of those whom I have the honour to address. They 
are prompted by my jealousy of whatever seems to me 
injurious to the intellectual growth and stature of my 
fellow-countrymen 3 in whom I revere not merely those 
excellent gifts of reason and of conscience which are, 
more or less, the common patrimony of all the chil- 
di-en of our Heavenly Father, but those special gifts 
also of political power, and of the intellectual dominion 
inseparable from such power, of which Englishmen, 
and the descendants of EngHshmen, are the sole heirs, 
with no Copartners on earth. They, and they alone, 
have inherited, and defended, and matured constitu- 
tional Hberty. To them, and to them alone, it there- 
fore belongs to give a free and authoritative utterance 
to the voice of public opinion, and so to exercise that 
mysterious influence which attests the contagion of 
thought, and the dominion of thought, among man- 
kind. To Englishmen collectively lies the final ap- 
peal from every human authority in England, on every 
question affecting our national welfare and our duties 
as a people. Is it, then, unreasonable to desire, or 
unwise to express the desire, that the vast apparatus 


of instruction now liappily at our command maybe so 
contrived, and so employed, as to train us all for the 
right discharge of this responsihility, by training each 
of us in at least some one branch, not of superficial, 
but of sound learning ? 

By sound, that is, solid learning, I mean such know- 
ledge as relates to useful and substantial things, and 
as in itself is compact, coherent, all of a piece, having 
its several parts fitted into each other, and mutually 
sustaining and illustrating one another. I mean that 
kind of learning which is the opposite of loose, dis- 
connected, unsystematic, gaseous information. I am 
pointing to a distinction like that between the arts of 
navigation and ballooning — ^the one steadily pursuing 
a definite and useful end, the other aiming at nothing 
but an idle and dangerous pastime — ^the one labori- 
ously, though obscurely, tracking a distinct path 
through the mighty deep, the other ostentatiously 
soaring into the pathless firmament — the one a task 
for men, the other a toy for children. 

Thinking thus of the value of soHd learning, I am 
anxious that we should not be aspirants after the 
fashionable accomphshment of literary omniscience. 
It is a pretension as preposterous as it is pernicious. 
Since the creation of our race three men only have 
appeared on earth in whom it was not a shameless 
effi'ontery to say that they " took all knowledge for 
their province." First among them in time, as in 
dignity, was that great king who won, by prayer such 
wisdom, as to exceed all mankind both in natural and in 
moral philosophy. Next came that Grecian sage, who 


acquired for liimself in the realms of thouglit a 
dominion far more universal and enduring than that 
which he taught his pupil Alexander to acquire over the 
kingdoms of the world. The throne of Aiistotle had 
continued vacant during long centuries, when it was 
at length ascended hy Francis Bacon. But with him 
that imperial dynasty hecame extinct. Their boundless 
dominion was thenceforward broken up into innumer- 
able provinces, the complete possession of the least of 
which is enough to exhaust the resources, as it ought 
to be enough to satisfy the ambition, of any ordinary 
man. How, then, shall every such man conquer any 
one of those provinces for himself ? 

I answer, place before an intelligent child an Eng- 
lish, a French, and an American globe of the planet 
on which we dwell. He will ask you why it is that, 
in each of the three globes, the same points are touched 
by all the circles whose planes are parallel to that of 
the Equator ; while, in each of the three, the points 
touched by the circles running from Pole to Pole are 
different ? You tell him it is because England and 
France and the United States have all placed their 
national observations at or near theii' respective capi- 
tals — ^that each of those nations has drawn its ovm 
meridian line at its own chosen point of observation 
— and that thus when a geographer of either looks at 
his globe he ascertains the latitude and longitude of 
each spot on the earth's surface with reference, as it 
may happen, either to Greenwich, or to Paris, or to 
Washington. His own observatory is never out of 
his mind, to whatever distance his eye may have wan- 


dered fi'om it. His own national meridian line is the 
basis of all his measurements, however remote they 
may be from the capital of his nation. His map of 
the world is still, in every part of it, a kind of 
national map. 

The lesson we thus give to our children we may 
advantageously repeat to ourselves. Take the chart 
of human knowledge; fix your own mental observa- 
tory on any spot in it which is most convenient to 
yom'self, and there draw your meridian. Whatever 
other places on that chart you may have occasion to 
inspect or to visit, let that meridian be the basis to 
which you refer them, and the Hue by which you 
measure them. Your chart of knowledge will thfen 
have, at least for yourself, a certain unity and con- 
sistency of plan, countless, and wide apart, and dis- 
similar, as may be the various regions comprised with- 
in its Hmits. 

In what precise part of the great sphere of learn- 
ing any man may choose to draw for himself this car- 
dinal or initiatory hue, is I think of little comparative 
importance. Let it only be drawn with a firm hand, 
and when once drawn let it thenceforward remain un- 
altered, and the author of it will have the means of 
grasping, and of binding indissolubly together into 
one well cemented whole, all the literary or scientific 
acquisitions of his future life. Wherever his Green- 
wich may be, he will be able to ascertain, relatively 
to it, the bearings, the latitudes, and the longitudes 
of every other place in the world of letters, which at 
any subsequent time he may see fit to visit. 


For learning is a world, and is not a chaos. The 
various accumulations of human knowledge are not so 
many detached masses. They are all connected parts 
of one great system of truth; and though that system 
be infinitely too comprehensive for any one of us to 
compass, yet each component member of it bears to 
every other component member, relations which each 
of us may, in his own department of study, search out 
and discover for himself. A man is really and sound- 
ly learned in exact proportion to the number and to 
the importance of those relations which he has thus 
carefully examined, and accurately understood. A 
well- judging man, therefore, will di-aw his meridian, 
or, to change the figure, will open his tnink line of 
study, in such a direction that, while habitually ad- 
hering to it, he may enjoy a ready access to such other 
fields of knowledge as are most nearly related to it, 
and as, by means of it, he can most readily penetrate. 

For this, amongst other reasons, I venture to re- 
commend to those of my hearers who may hitherto 
have been turning over books, reviews, magazines, 
and newspapers with no definite purpose, and therefore 
with Httle if any mental nutriment or mental growth, 
that they betake themselves to the study of Modern 
History. Modern History ! you exclaim. "Nothing 
like leather," said the Tanner of old; and nothing 
hke the History of these later ages, says the Histori- 
cal Professor of Cambridge. Well ! I admit that my 
advice does smell of the shop ; but of all the smells 
a man can bear about him, commend me to that. 
When any one talks of his own trade, he at least 


usually knows something of what lie is talking about. 
I hope it is so, in some little measure, with myself. 
The trade which I now carry on, was not indeed my 
original calling. I took it up in the evening of a life 
of which the morning had been spent at the Bar, and 
the noontide in the business of the State. But from 
an early period I had acted on the counsels which I 
now offer to you. I soon drew my meridian line. I 
took the History of Em-ope, since the overthrow of the 
Roman Empire, as the basis of my reading. To that 
basis I more or less referred whatever else I read. 
It was not without some tacit reference to it that I 
perused many a Brief, and wrote still more Despatches; 
and therefore it was that when the time had come at 
which it behoved me to quit my pubHc employm^ts, 
I was judged by others not unworthy, however httle 
worthy in fact, to be associated with such men as Whe- 
well and Sedgwick, as Peacock and WiUis, in their 
high and honourable office (the highest and the most 
honourable to which I have ever attained), of training 
up the youth of their and my University for the right 
discharge of some of the most important functions to 
which Enghshmen are called. To my pupils there 
I have said, as I now say to you, that History con- 
sidered as a subject of study has this peculiar 
excellence, that it may be readily grafted upon every 
other branch of knowledge, and that every other branch 
of knowledge may be readily grafted upon it. What- 
ever may be the windings of a man's path, literary, 
scientific, professional, or mercantile, they can never 
conduct him to any point on which his knowledge of 


the public occurrences of former times will not tlirow 
some liglit, or wliicli will not reflect back some light 
on those occurrences. 

One of the young men whom I see before me has, 
I will suppose, anticipated this advice, and has resolved 
to devote his leisure hours to the study of the His- 
tory of England. A wise and a happy resolution ! 
He could choose no annals better adapted for his 
purpose. Those of Greece may be more heroical, 
those of France far more entertaining, those of Spain 
more Romantic, those of the Papacy more full of 
solemn warnings, those of Germany more replete with 
events directly afi'ecting the whole European Continent; 
but the record of the deeds of our own forefathers, 
teach above all other such records how the Church 
and the State may be well governed, wisely reformed, 
valiantly defended, and perseveringly maintained. 
Let the student of our History digress into what 
other fields he will (for I neither expect nor advise an 
exclusive culture of that one field) he may still gather 
in them all something relevant to that his main pursuit. 
If, for example, he learns to read the language, and 
becomes acquainted with the manners of Germany, it 
will illustrate for him the characters of Edwin, and 
Alfi-ed, and Athelstane, otherwise hardly to be under- 
stood. If he acquires any knowledge of the story of 
Pope Hildebrand and of his immediate successors, 
he wiU the better comprehend the reigns of WiUiam 
the Conqueror, of Henry the Second, and of John. If 
he looks into the mediaeval Poetry, it will reveal to 
him much of the true character of Richard Coe'ur de 


Lion. A summer ramble tlirough tliis island may 
render intelligible to bim wbat he bas read of the 
fields of Hastings or of Bannockbmn, of Flodden or of 
Boswortb, of Edge-Hill or of Marston Moor. Should 
he conceive a taste for Church Arcliitecture,his mind's 
eye may be enlightened to see that glorious spectacle 
which the English chroniclers have vainly attempted 
to describe to him, but on which our ancestors once 
gazed with a just, though it was a fond and super- 
stitious enthusiasm. He will see the cities of our 
land crowned with churches Hke those of Evesham, 
and many of her quiet meadows embellished with 
monasteries like that of Fountains Abbey. A visit 
to Windsor, or Beauvoir, or Alton-Towers, or Hatfield, 
will enable him to contemplate what was once the 
living aspect of the great men with whose actions HaU, 
or Hollingshed, or Clarendon, or Burnet, have already 
made him famihar. An armoury will show him by 
what weapons we conquered at Cressy and at Agincourt. 
Geography wiU enable him to follow the conquests of 
our Henrys and Edwards, or the discoveries of our 
Raleighs and Drakes, of our Cooks and Ansons. Botany 
wiU reveal to him the Flora of England, and much 
of the agricultm'alresom'ces of England, as they existed 
in each successive century. Political Economy will 
explain to him many things otherwise inexphcable in 
om' annals, as, for example, the social efibcts of the 
dissolution of the monasteries, and of the consequent 
Poor Law ; while his attentive perusal of Blackstone 
wiU throw for him a flood of Hght over the whole course 
of our domestic history. In short, let such a student 


go wliere he will, read what he will, enjoy what ration- 
al amusement he will, and let him only bring to hear 
on the elucidation of his main subject all the collateral 
lights which, in the course of such pursuits, may fall 
in his way, and he has my full consent to his reading 
all the pocket libraries which all the booksmiths of our 
days have hammered out for the use of railway travel- 
lers. Let him but carefully bind together into sheaves 
whatever he may glean to his purpose from such de- 
sultory readings (for some desultory reading must be 
conceded to us all), and let him accumulate these 
sheaves to his historical harvest, and he will become 
as well entitled to the praise of sound learning, and 
wiU, in his measure, as certainly enjoy the advantages 
of it, as if, in the extent and value of his literary 
wealth, he could emulate those eminent scholars whose 
care has so long rendered the school of Shrewsbury 

Nevertheless there must of course be some limits 
to these deviations fi-om the more direct and habitual 
course of any man's intellectual pursuits. In order to 
know anything, one must resolve to remain ignorant 
of many things. From your occasional digressions 
from the study of the History of England, many topics, 
and many books, must be altogether excluded. But 
there is one such digression which in my judgment, 
is to be declined by no student of Enghsh history; on 
the contrary, I think it is a digression to be frequently 
and assiduously made, yet is the least rugged of all 
the by-paths you can tread. I hold that no man can 
have any just conception of the History of England 


who has not often read, and meditated, and learned to 
love the great poets of England. Chaucer, Shakspeare, 
Nassinger, George Herbert, Milton, Cowley, Dryden, 
Pope, and Burns, often throw more rich and hrilHant 
colours, and sometimes even more clear and steady 
lights, on the times and doings of our forefathers, than 
are to he gathered from all the chroniclers put to- 
gether, from the venerable Bede to the philosophical 
Hume. They are at least the greatest and the best 
commentators on those chroniclers. If this statement 
sounds to you hke an exaggeration, hsten to the de- 
fence I have to make of it. 

So much has been said and written of late upon 
the distinction between what is objective and what is 
subjective Hterature, that we are sometimes tempted 
to hand it over to the region of cant or of shams, or 
to pitch it into that other and yet darker gulph of 
"humbug" into which we are so much accustomed to 
plunge whatever is strange to our own individual habits 
of thinking. Yet it is a distinction which has a good 
measure of sound sense in it. Por it is one thing to 
write about the external objects and events aroimd 
me ; it is another thing to write about the thoughts 
wliich those objects and events have suggested to me. 
It is one thing to look abroad and another to look 
within. The first of these employments of the mind 
is the primary and chief office of the historian. The 
other is the primary and chief office of the poet. No 
historian or poet indeed is of the highest rank who 
does not, to some extent, combine in himself each of 
these mental habits; but every great historian or great ^ 


poet exercises himself chiefly in the one or the other 
of them which it is his own appropriate duty to cul- 
tivate. For the political, military, and social move- 
ments of each generation of men (that is, their history) 
are the result of the influence exercised over them by 
the spirit of the age in which they live; and the spirit 
of the age is the aggregate of the i,houghts, feelings, 
and propensities which then happen to he dominant in 
the minds of the people. Those movements are re- 
corded by the historian. That spirit is expressed by 
the poet. The one describes the effects of the impel- 
ling power; the other seizes, analyzes, and depicts the 
power itself. History is the complement of poetry, 
and -poetry is the complement of history. A divorce 
between the two is fatal to the beauty and to the life 
of both. This may sound a little abstruse, but a few 
examples will render it clear. Thus, from the author 
of the book of Judges, we learn the progress and the 
result of the war between Jabin, King of Canaan, and 
the Children of Israel ; but it is from the Song of 
Deborah we learn what was the devout confidence, 
the holy indignation, and the fierce resentment by 
which the conquerors were animated. The acts of 
Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, are they not 
written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of 
Judah ? but the passions, good or evil, of their subjects, 
the exulting joy with which they foresaw the descent 
of the King of Babylon into Hades, and the faith 
which made the future advent of the Messiah a present 
and a glorious reahty to them, are they not depicted 
in the prophecies of the inspired Isaiah? From the 


wi'iter of the Second Book of Kings we learn how the 
Jews were carried away captive in the days of Zede- 
kiahj but it is the Psalmist alone who makes known 
to us how they " sat down by the waters of Babylon 
and wept, when they remembered thee, Oh Sion." 

Or to pass to less sacred instances. Homer ex- 
hibits to us all the characteristics of his countrymen 
—their antipathy to their Asiatic neighbours — their 
love of war, of wisdom, of eloquence, of intrigue, and 
of nautical adventure. The great tragedians of Greece 
reveal to us their people's exquisite sense of beauty, 
and their faith in an awful, an almighty, but an im- 
personal power, called Fate, controlling the Olympic 
Gods, whom they at once admired and despised, ijror- 
shipped and disbeheved. Virgil discovers to us the 
rural habits, and the refined tastes of the later Ro- 
mans, and their homage of the new or imperial Majesty 
—(the supposed guardian of peace and of law) — with 
wliich they consoled themselves under their irreparable 
loss of freedom. Dante gives utterance to the pas- 
sionate desire of the ItaUan people to escape, or at 
least to rebuke, the sphitual tyranny of Rome, and 
to clothe even the most barbarous of her legends under 
some forms of solemnity and of grace, beneath which 
their inherent deformity might be hidden. Aiiosto is 
the interpreter of the spmt of a nation which, after 
struofo'hno; in vain for civil and intellectual freedom, 
was seeking rehef and self-forgetfulness in the wildest 
dreams of a sportive imagination; and Goethe repre- 
sents to us a race of men who, proudly conscious of 
powers for which in the great arena of the pohtical 


world they had found no successful exercise, were 
striving to raise themselves above their more fortunate 
rivals, by an ostentatious familiarity with all the mys- 
teries which overhang the daily path of common life, 
or which connect us with the unseen realities of other 
modes of existence. Had, then, the great poets of 
England no corresponding errand to express the 
thoughts and the feelings which, from age to age, had 
the mastery over the minds of their fellow country- 
men ? My own judgment is, that they had such a 
commission, and that they executed it with incom- 
parable skill and beauty. To vindicate this opinion 
will be the object of whatever else I have to offer to 
your notice. Nor let it be supposed that, when enter- 
ing upon that topic, I forget my main design. I have 
insisted on the selection of some one branch of study 
not only as the indispensable condition of acquiring any 
real and useful learning, but also as the only method 
by which we may safely and profitably indulge that 
discursive spirit which belongs, I suppose, more or less 
to all of us. Let me, then, now endeavour to show 
liow he who has selected English History (for ex- 
ample) as his meridian line of knowledge, may adhere 
to it even when he seems to be deviating from it; may 
be culling fruits even when in pursuit of flowers; and 
may render the delights of literature subservient to 
the more severe of his literary labours. The illustra- 
tion may be varied indefinitely by each student for 
himself, if only the principle involved in it be borne in 
mind. Take then the period which elapsed between 
the years 1328 and 1400. They include the French 


and the Scotch Conquests of Edward the Third — his 
improvement of the laws and constitution of the reahn 
— ^the minority of Richard the Second — ^the insurrec- 
tion of Wat Tyler — the deposition of the young King 
— ^the usurpation of the house of Lancaster — and the 
preaching and attempted reforms of Wicliffe. You 
have, I wiU suppose, studied these events in Knygton 
and Heming, and Walsingham, and Cotton, in the 
glowing pages of Froissart; or in the abridgements of 
Hume, of Sharon, Turner, and of Lingard, or in the 
life of Wichffe by my eloquent, indefatigable, and very 
learned friend Doctor Vaughan. Excellent books in 
their various kinds; but after reading them all, what 
do you reaUy know of the people of England of that 
era, of their living spuit, of their inner hfe, of their 
modes of thinking and acting, of their domestic, their 
familiar, and daily habits? Yet to an historical student 
this is a knowledge of far more value than any which 
relates to the march of armies, to cabals of parhaments, 
to the enactment of laws, or even to the disputes of 
theologians. Has no one transmitted that knowledge 
to us? 

The seventy-two years to which I have referred 
exactly coincide with the life-time of Geoffrey Chaucer 
— a man of liberal education, engaged in no particular 
calling, possessed of an easy fortune, and connected 
by marriage with John of Gaunt, the great friend and 
patron of Wicliffe — a man therefore who had the 
amplest means, as he had the keenest wit, and the most 
restless curiosity, for studying the character of liis 
fellow-countrymen. Would you know what was the 


aspect in wliicli tlie England of tliose days presented 
itself to him? Read the prologue to his Canterhury 
Tales. There you will find the poet at the Tabard 
Inn, in South wark, seated sA the landlord's table, one 
of a large company of guests, some of high and some 
of low degree. There were present priests, lawyers, 
physicians, merchants, scholars, nuns, ladies, cai*pen- 
ters, dyers, tapsters, cooks, and seamen. The jolly 
host agreeing with his messmates that a pilgrimage 
to the shrine of Saint Thomas a Becket would be 
very healtliful to the soul, offers to accompany and to 
guide them thither; but he thinks that their penitence 
will be none the less effective for a little merriment 
by the way. So, at his suggestion, they agree that 
«aeh pilgrim shall teU some good story as they travel 
along, and that on their return to London the best 
story-teUer shaU be treated by the rest to a handsome 
supper at the Tabard. The book is an imaginary 
recoi-d of these pleasant Tales, of which however in 
passing, I am bound to say that some of them must 
be unfit for the perusal of any one who properly res- 
pects and cherishes his own mental purity, since the 
remembrance of their dissolute character haunted and 
agonised the dying moments of their great author. 
But the prologue is inoffensive. It contains a minute 
description of his feUow-travellers. Let us see how 
far they elucidate the history of Edward the Third, 
and of Richard the Second. 

First, let me introduce you to the Franklin or small 
landowner, of those days, reminding you that the lan- 
guage is that of our forefathers four hundred and fifty 


years ago, and therefore a little rugged. I will, how- 
ever, read it as it stands, with the change only of an 
obsolete word or two: — 

His bread, his ale, was always after one, 
A better envied man wasnowhere none, 
Withouten bake meat never was his house, 
Of fish and flesh ; and that so plenteous, 
It snowed, in his house, of meat and drink, 
Of all the dainties that men could of think ; 
His table dormant, in his hall alway, 
Stood ready covered aU the longe day. 

Now for the Squire — 

Embroidered was he as it were a mede, 
All full of freshe flowers white and red. 
Singing he was or flaunting all the day, 
He was as fresh as is the month of May. 

Take next the Oxford Clerk or Scholar — 

As lean was his horse as is a rake, 

And he was not right fat, I imdertake; 

For he had gotten him no benefice, 

Nor was thought worthy to have an oflfice, 

For him was ever had at his bed's head, 

A twenty books clothed in black or red. 

Of study took he moste care and heed. 

Nor a word spake he more than what was need. 

Sounding in moral virtue was his speech, 

And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach. 

The Physician next makes his appearance — 

He knew the cause of every malady, 
Were it of cold, or hot, or moist, or dry; 
And when engendered, and of what humour, 
He was a very perfect practiser. 

We now turn to the Ecclesiastics, and first (as befits 

her dignity) to the prioress — 

She was so charitable and so piteous, 
She would weep if that she saw a mouse 
Caught in a trap; if it were dead or bled. 
Of smalle houndes had she that she fed 


With roasted flesh, and milk and Wassail bread, 
But sore wept she if one of them were dead, 
Or if men smote it with a yarde smart; 
And all was conscience and tender heait. 

To the lady succeeds the Monk — 

I saw his sleeves perfumed at the hand, 
With grease, and that the finest in the land, 
And for to fasten his hood neath his chin. 
He had of gold y-wrought a curious pin. 
A love-knot in the greater end there was, 
His head was bald, and shone as any glass. 

The Monk is followed by the Friar — 

Full swetely hearde he confession, 

And pleasant was his absolution, 

For many a man so hard is at his heart, 

He cannot weep, though sorely he may smart, 

Therefore, instead of weeping and prayers, 

Men might give silver to the poor friers. 

Last of all I introduce the Parson, or, as we should 
say now-a-days the Parish Clergyman — 

A good man there was of religion. 

That was a poor parson of a town, 

But rich lie was of Holy thought and work, 

He was also a lerned man, a Clerk 

That Christe's Gospel truely would preach. 

His parishers devoutly would he teach. 

Benign he was, and wondrous diligent, 

And in adversity full patient 

His parish wide, the houses far asunder, 

But he ne'er left none, for no rain or thunder, 

And tho' he hol}^ was and virtuous. 

He was to sinful men not despitous. 

To drawen folk to Heaven with fairenesse 

By good example was his businesse. 

For Christe's love and his Apostles' twelve. 

He taught, hut first he followed it himseK 

Now, all this is, of course, fiction. But what else 
were the novels of Fielding, Smollett, and Sterne, a 
hundred years ago, and what else are those of Mr. 


Dickens now? But as surely as Squire All-worthy 
and Partridge, and Matthew Bramble, and Winnifred 
Jenkins, and Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim, and 
Mistress Nickleby and Mr. Squeers, are all portraits 
drawn by those artists from originals of their own 
times, so surely are the storytellers who travel with 
mine host of the Tabard to Canterbury genuine pic- 
tures of the men and women with whom Chaucer was 

Observe then what, in addition to the dehght of 
reading such passages of such poetry, is the histori- 
cal instruction we gain from them. They show us 
that four hundred and fifty years ago the different 
ranks of society were drawn much more closely to- 
gether than at present; since knights and prioresses, 
squires and serjeants-at-law, are supposed, as a matter 
of course, to sit down to supper, in all loving associ- 
ation, with carpenters, tapsters, cooks, sailors, and 
ploughmen. They show, therefore, that in that re- 
mote age all EngHshmen could respect each other as 
Freemen, while France and Germany were peopled with 
Bondsmen (called by the French Eoturiers) — of not 
much more account than the Serfs in Russia, or the 
Ryots in Hindostan at tliis day. They show that 
the middle classes of rural society^ the Franklins and 
Squires, were living in great and even excessive abun- 
dance ; though, as we may infer, with few other than 
animal gratifications, as these alone are celebrated. 
They show, however, that even then learning, real 
or supposed, was the object of respect to those who 
had it not themselves; since what we now call the 


learned professions must have been held in reverence 
by those remote ancestors of ours to whom the poet 
addressed himself; for the wits never select as the 
victims of then* flouting and jeering, persons not usu- 
ally in high popular estimation. They show that 
our forefathers laughed at the superstitions they were 
practising; so that, even in Chaucer's time, there 
were not wanting some sure omens of their approach- 
ing downfall. They show that the resentment against 
friars, monks, abbesses, and pardoners, which a hun- 
dred years later overthrew the monasteries, was even 
then working deeply in the national mind : and they 
further show that EngUshmen in the fourteenth cen- 
tury loved and honoured their parish priests, even as 
we love and honoiu' them now. Much beside this 
they show; but tell me from what History of Eng- 
land you can learn the same facts, I will not say as 
vividly and impressively, but even as accm*ately, and 
on evidence of as much inherent weight and solid 
value ? 

As we are engaged with Poetry, you will allow me 
the poetical Hcense of overleaping at a bound the next 
200 years, and placing you in England in the year 
1600. They have been eventful centuries. They 
have witnessed the loss of the Enghsh dominion in 
France — the Civil Wars of the Roses — the destruction 
in those wars of all the old nobihty — ^the invention 
of the art of printing — ^the revival of learning — the 
union of all the European States in one great though 
tacit international confederacy — the Reformation — 
the establishment of it in Great Britain — and the ac- 


cession of the Tudor Dynasty to the English Crown. 
EHzabeth was now reigning; though drawing near 
to her end. You may have studied her reign in 
Camden, Burnett, HeyHn, Strype, Sir Simon D'Ewes, 
and Knox; in Bacon's letters ; in Birch's Memoirs; 
in M. Mignet's beautiful life of Mary, Queen of Scots; 
and in other works innumerable. In which of them 
have you found a living, moving picture, of the Eng- 
land of which they write ? Have they made you ac- 
quainted with the mind which agitated that busy 
mass, with the cherished hopes and fears, with the 
character, the purposes, the deep-seated energies, the 
prevalent opinions, the active moral sentiments, the 
true heart and soul of the English people? I think 
not. But is there then no teacher of these vital 
truths? Had Elizabeth no subject who would exliibit 
to his own age, and to all future ages, the very shape 
and body of the time, its form and pressure ? 

There was then living that man to whom the Eter- 
nal Fountain of all wisdom had seen fit to impart a soul 
in which, as in a mirror, were concentrated all the 
lights radiating from every point of human observa- 
tion, and from which, as from a mirror, those lights 
were reflected back in every possible combination of 
beauty and sublimity, of wisdom and of wit, of pathos 
and of humour. Shakspeare, in the full matm-ity of 
his genius, was then completing the noblest hterary 
monument which it has ever been permitted to any 
uninspired man to erect for the illumination of his bre- 
thren of mankind, and (I scruple not to add) for the 
glory of the Giver of every good and perfect gift. For 


tlioiigli it be true that his Plays are occasionally tar- 
nished by some of the impurities of his age (the addition 
not improbably of meaner hands than his own), yet it is 
also true that these are but local blemishes which may 
be readily swept away or passed over, and that he has 
written nothing in any of his dramas, tending to con- 
found or to impair the eternal distinctions between 
good and evil, but that he has written much to render 
virtue inimitably lovely, and crime unutterably hate- 
ful. But the knowledge of his times, for which we 
are indebted to him (to return to my immediate sub- 
ject), far exceeds in real importance whatever else we 
know respecting them. It is a theme hardly to be 
approached without the risk of endless redundancy, 
yet it is not a theme entirely to be passed over in 

In that wondrous throng and succession of person- 
ages whom his imagination called into existence, many 
bear foreign names, and are made to act in remote ages, 
or in distant lands. But there is not one of them 
whose parentage may not be readily traced to the 
mind of an Englishman of the Elizabethan Era. While 
assigning to each, with exquisite fehcity, the modes 
of thought and action characteristic of the period and 
of the place in which they are supposed to live, he 
depicts them all with an insight into the heart of man 
so profound, with a charity so universal, with a variety 
of portraiture so boundless, and with such a prodigality 
of mental resources, as to attest, not only that the 
mighty artist was drawing from the living forms of 
nature, but that those forms were noblest, the most 


picturesque, and the most varied, to wliicli nature had 
ever given hirth in the land of his nativity. Not merely 
Falstaff, and Falconhridge, and Richard the Third, 
and Wolsey — our fellow-countrymen — but Hamlet 
and Othello, the melancholy Jaques and Mercutio, 
Brutus and Cleopatra — natives of lands and of ages 
the most remote from ours — are evidently pictures 
from the easel of one to whom such men and such 
authors as Bacon, Raleigh, Sidney, and Spencer were 
familiar — of one who numhered among his companions 
such wits as Jonson, and Chapman, and Fletcher, and 
Donne — and of one who, after growing up in central 
England in the days of her greatest originahty, had he- 
come a resident of London in the days of her greatest 
intellectual vigour. While every one of his dramas, 
and almost every one of his characters, exhibits what 
is permanent and universal in our nature as men, it 
also exhibits whatever was pecuhar and distinctive in 
the nature of the EngHshmen of his own generation. 
Read then in this light, and how do they illuminate 
the whole series of the Ehzabethan Chronicles ? 

The EngHsh Ladies of those times present them- 
selves to you under names of which the mere cata- 
logue has an irresistible charm — Miranda, Isabella, 
Beatrice, Jessico, Rosahnd, Juliet, Opheha, Desde- 
mona — ^the very models of female grace and tender- 
ness, and strength of heart, and purity. The Enghsh 
Cavaher appears on the stage in the persons of Claudio, 
of Benedict, of Orlando, and Mercutio, each of them, 
in his own way, a Phihp Sidney, doubly armed, with 
the sword and with the pen. The Enghsh statesmen 


are shadowed forth in the forms of Vincentio and Bo- 
hngbroke, and Hastings, and Stanley, and Polonius; 
men of large experience, of wide foresight, and of deep 
suhtHty, hut ceasing to he worshipful as soon as they 
pass from then- cahinets into the outer world. The 
English Protestant Divines are not dramatised at all, 
hecause the Poet could or would not descend to the 
level of a Sir Martin Mar Prelate; hut the monastic 
Enghsh Clergy of the Roman Catholic faith, (to which 
assuredly he did not himself helong,) are frequently 
and invariably personated as kind, gentle, and hene- 
iicent ministers of religion, under the name of Bal- 
thazzar, and Lawrence, and many others, to attest his 
universal s^nnpathy for whatever was praiseworthy 
and lovely, however much it might he misrepresented 
or derided, or even persecuted hy others. 

But passing from the noble and the great, Shak- 
speare delighted above all things to paint the com- 
monalty of his native land, those to whom we now 
give the glorious title of the working classes — those, 
that is, who earn their own living by the labour of 
the mind or by the labour of the hand. His parents, 
though rich enough to afford him the blessing of a 
good education, were not of such rank as to detach 
him in early life from the society of the petty chap- 
men, mechanics, peasants, shepherds, and servingmen 
of his native town and its vicinity. He has depicted 
them in almost all his tragic, no less than in all his 
comic di'amas. Would you enter a party of the small 
gentry of a country town in England in those days ? 
there are Master Ford and Master Page of Windsor, 


with their saucy wives, to receive and entertain you. 
Are you curious about the fireside amusements of the 
common people of their times ? you have but to listen 
to Robin Goodfellow and Peasblossom, Snug the 
Joiner, Bottom the Weaver, and Snout the Tinker. 
Is it your fancy to witness the humours of a country 
magistrate's court under our great Queen ? You have 
but to listen to Mr. Justice Shallow, and to suppose the 
incomparable Dogberry and Verges to be acting as his 
constables. Would you have a notion of the servants' 
hall as it was then peopled? Launcelot Gobbo and 
Grumio, and Fabyn, and Tranio, will do the honours 
of it for you. Or do you prefer a talk with those who 
handled the spade or tended the sheep of our ancestors? 
What better companions could you desire than the 
Gravediggers, or Touchstone, with his friends Wilham 
and Phoebe, and Audrey? Or if you are inquisitive 
about the tavern festi^dties of our forefathers, enter 
the Boar in Eastcheap, or the hostel of Mistress Quickly^ 
Choose for yourself which of the many faces of Old 
England, or as it was then called, Merry England, 
you would have set before you, and Shakspeare will 
present it to you, not in the shape of solemn disserta- 
tion or wearisome statistics, biit such as it really was 
— a scene crowded with hving men and women, ply- 
ing their several tasks, animated by their various 
passions, wooing, merry-making, trafficking, sorrow- 
ing, laughing, scolding, and morahsing, just as men 
and women really did two hundred and fifty years 
ago. The perusal of his plays difi'ers from the study 
of the ordinary histories of our native land, as a visit 


to the now visible City of Pompeii differs from the 
perusal of a treatise on Roman antiquities. Those 
plays are not, however, to be considered only as the 
most fascinating of spectacles. To those who know 
how to search for it, they futher impart much and 
most significant historical knowledge. 

For example, these dramas show in what high 
reverence the Royal person and authority were held 
amongst us in the reign of Elizabeth. They show 
that the great civil franchises which had, even then 
been won and transmitted through centuries, to the 
people at large, were not then among the common- 
places of popular thought and discourse, and wi'iting. 
They show that the distinctions of social rank were 
in those days deeply drawn, and scrupulously main- 
tained. They show that the usurpations of the Papacy 
were vehemently denounced even by those who re- 
garded with the largest charity the ministers of the 
ancient faith. They show that our forefat];iers had not 
learned our modern affectation of a liberalism so cos- 
mopolitan as to shrink from celebrating in the loftiest 
strains the greatness, the glory, and the happiness 
of England. They show that the stage had assumed 
that public censorship which had once belonged to the 
pulpit, and which in our days belongs to the press — a 
cautious, indeed a general and an indirect censorship 
even in the hands of Shakspeare, though never ex- 
ercised by him except to pronounce sentences not of 
ephemeral but of eternal efficacy. They show above 
all things that the great principle of self-government 
had already fuU possession of the pubhc mind, and 



was akeady in active operation amongst us — that the 
whole body of the English people, though saying 
nothing about Magna Charta, and anticipating no BUI 
of Rights, were animated by the genuine spirit of 
freedom, pm'suing their own chosen paths, indulging 
their own humours, feehng but little pressure from 
their government, ignorant of all the continental de- 
gradations of caste, and hving with each other on 
terms becoming men who felt that they were all free, 
and that in the eye of the law they were all equal. In 
short, no man can read Shakspeare's Plays attentively, 
without perceiving that the dramatist has brought 
him into a company of persons nearly allied to that 
extraordinary race of men who acted on the theatre 
of public life in the very next generation ; — that the 
Shakspearian dramatis personce might well have given 
birth to the Cavaliers and Roundheads of the seven- 
teenth century J — that the courtiers and churchmen of 
the stage are»near of kin to the Falklands and the 
Hydes, to the Wentworths and t^ie Lauds, of the Court 
and Cabinet of Charles the First j — ^that his dramatic 
soldiers, and gentlemen, and philosophers, are of the 
same blood and lineage as the Cromwells and the 
Hutchinsons, the Hampdens and the Yanes, the 
Prynnes and the Bastwicks, of the Civil Wars 3 — and 
that the tragic or comic heroes, drawn by Shakspeare 
from the middle ranks of life, are the legitimate 
fathers of the men and women who founded the Eng- 
lish settlements on the North American Continent. 
I make no especial reference to the Plays which 
dramatise the wars of York and Lancaster, because 


the latest of the events to which they refer was more 
than a hundred years earher than the birth of Shak- 
speare, and because he is therefore not a personal wit- 
ness to the spirit of those times. Yet in passing I 
would observe that even if read as histories, these Plays 
are of the highest value utterly, as the writer of them 
sets at nought every date and every fact which stands 
in the way of the dramatic effect which they intended to 
produce. The peculiar value of them is, that they exhi- 
bit the romance of history in its most attractive forms, 
saturated with the philosophy of history in its deepest 
principles. The Great Duke of Marlborough might 
have made without a blush his celebrated avowal that 
those plays were the only History of England of which 
he knew anything, if he could as truly have said (would 
he could have said!) that he had imbibed the lessons 
of magnanimity and of wisdom which they were so 
evidently designed, and are so admirably calculated 
to convey. 

Much as Shakspeare abounds in illustrations of 
the general aspects of Enghsh society in his own days, 
and largely as he contributes to render intelligible to 
us the general basis or ground-work on which all our 
historians or chroniclers erected their narratives of 
particular events, he is however not a frequent com- 
mentator on the passing occurrences of his own times. 
Some passages indeed there are, famihar to us all, in 
which he gave utterance to the emotions with which 
the bosoms of his contemporaries were heaving. Such 
is the vehement denunciation of the tyranny and super- 
stitions of Papal Rome drawn from him by the ex- 



communication wliich tlie Pope had fulminated against 
Elizabeth. Such also is the noble burst of patriotic 
enthusiasm in which, hke a true-spirited Englishman 
as he was, he celebrated the defeat of the Armada; 
and such (as I believe with Warburton) his superb 
comj)liment to Ehzabeth (the Crowned Vestal), qua- 
Hfied by an allusion to her rival Mary (the Mermaid), 
and to the ruin in which her fascinations had involved 
the Duke of Norfolk and the Earls of Northumberland 
and Westmoreland. Will you forgive my repeating 
to you the exquisite language in which Oberon, the 
Fairy King, is made to say all this to Puck his fol- 
lower? — 

My gentle Puck come hither, thou remember'st 

Since once I sat upon a Promontory, 

And heard a Mermaid, on a Dolphin's back, 

Uttering such dulcet and harmonious hreath. 

That the rade Sea grew civil at her song; 

And certain stars shot madly from their spheres 

To hear the Sea Maid's music? 

Puclc. 1 remember. 

Oberon. That very time I saw (but thou could'st not) 
Flying between the cold Moon and the Earth, 
Cupid, all ai-m'd. A certain aim he took 
At a fair Vestal throned by the west, 
And loos'd his love-shaft smartly from his bow, 
As it should pierce a hundi-ed thousand hearts. 
But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft 
Quench'd in the chaste beams of the watery moon, 
And the imperial votaress passed on 
In maiden meditation, fancy free. 

But though Shakspeare might thus for a moment 
stoop from his high career to offer his Sovereign the 
homage due to her real greatness as a Queen, and to 
her imaginary loveliness as a woman, his was too large 
a soul to contract itself into the dimensions of a Jom-nal- 


ist, even if Journalism had been a craft witli which 
the state would, in his days, have been permitted to 
intermeddle. His commentators, however, dispute 
whether there are not at least two other memorable 
exceptions to his habitual silence on the events of his 
times; and whether we may not read in " King John," 
and in "As you hke it," the judgments he had formed 
on the execution of Mary and on the fall of Essex. 
The inquiry may perhaps merit and reward your pass- 
ing attention. 

It was on the 7th of February, 1587, that Mary 
laid her head on the block in the hall of Fotheringay 
Castle. The writers of those times describe, in the 
strongest terms, the apparent surprise and resentment 
of Elizabeth on receiving that intelligence. Her grief 
exhibited itself first in mute astonishment, and then 
in lamentable wailings. She chased her Ministers 
from her presence. She accused them of having put 
her dear kinswoman to death contrary to her fixed 
purpose. She prosecuted Secretary Daveson for hav- 
ing despatched to Fotheringay, without her consent, 
the death warrant which he had prevailed on her to 
sign. She obtained a judgment condemning him to 
pay to herself a fine of £10,000, and to be imprisoned 
during her pleasure ', and she actually caused that sen- 
tence to be executed to the letter. I suppose that no 
one now doubts that all this was but base hypocrisy 
and cruel injustice. But what was the popular opinion 
of those days ? The Pulpit and the Press were silent, 
or subservient to the Queen. Did the stage give ut- 
terance to the pubhc feelings ? 


Warburton thinks that, in the Play of King John, 
Shakspeare endeavoured to ingratiate himself with 
Elizabeth by adopting and echoing her charge against 
Daveson. That Play first appeared in 1598; that is, 
about eleven years after Mary's death. In the third 
act, the King darkly intimates to Hubert his desire 
for the assassination of his nephew and rival, Arthur. 
In the fourth act, Hubert apprises the King of the uni- 
versal horror and discontent which had been produced 
by the execution of his fatal orders ; and John in the 
following terms throws on his too ready instrument 
the responsibility for the murder: — 

It is the curse of Kings to te attended 

By slaves, that take their humours for a warrant 

To hreak -within the Woody house of life; 

And, on the w-inking of Authority, 

To understand a Law; to know the meaning 

Of dangerous Majesty; when, perchance, it frowns 

More upon humour, than advised respect. 

Hubert answers — 

Here is your hand and seal for what I did. 
The, King. Oh ! when the last account 'twist heaven and earth 
Is to be made, then shall this hand and seal 
Witness against us to damnation. 
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds, 
Makes deeds ill done. Had'st not thou been by^ 
A fellow by the hand of nature marked. 
Quoted, and signed to do a deed of shame, 
This murder had not come into my miad. 
But taking note of thy abhorred aspect, 
Finding thee fit for bloody vUlany, 
Apt, liable to be employed in danger, 
I faintly broke with thee of Aithurs death. 
And thou, to be endeared to a King, 
Made it no conscience to destroy a Piince. 
Had'st thou but shook thine head, or made a pause 
When I spake darkly what I purposed; 
Or turned an eye of doubt upon my face; 


Or bid me tell my tale in express words, 

Deep shame had struck me dumb, made me break off, 

And those thy fears might have wrought fears in me. 

But thou didst understand me by my signs, 

And did'st, in signs again parley with sin. 

Yea, wthout stop, did'st let thy heart consent, 

And consequently thy rude hand to act 

The deed, which both our tongues held vile to name. 

Out of my sight, and never see me more! 

Now, observe that the whole of this scene is a pure 
invention, and that there is no authority in the his- 
torians of King John's reign for the participation of 
such a person as Hubert in Arthur's murder, if indeed 
Aiiihur was really murdered at all, or even for Hubert's 
existence. Is it possible that Shakspeare invented 
such an incident and such a personage without per- 
ceiving the correspondence of both with the case of 
Daveson? Or could the obvious appHcation of the 
parable to Elizabeth be overlooked by the audience 
at the distance of only eleven years from the death 
of Mary ? I do not, therefore, see how we can rea- 
sonably depart from Warburton's opinion that the 
similitude was not accidental but designed. But 
neither do I see how we can agree with him in think- 
ing that this speech was written to suggest an apology 
for Elizabeth. It rather intimates that the real guilt 
of Mary's execution was hers, and that Daveson was 
comparatively, if not wholly, blameless. It seems to 
me, therefore, that the evident allusions of this passage 
of the play to the analogous passage of their recent 
history, attest at once the courage of the great drama- 
tist by whom they were hazarded, and the discretion 
of the great monarch by whom they were disregarded. 


Mr. Charles Knight, however (to whom, by the way, 
the literature of his generation owes many high obh- 
gations, and especially for his History of England, 
the best of all compilations of that kind which has 
ever appeared among us), Mr. Knight, I say, rejects 
Warhurton's commentary on this scene as altogether 
extravagant, because, as he observes, both the poet 
and the players who had presumed so to comment on 
so high a measure of state pohcy would have promptly 
found themselves in the stock or in the jail. 

And yet Mr. Knight himself has discovered in "As 
you hke it" a similar act of audacity, though doubt- 
less much more skilfully veiled. In September, 1 599, 
Essex arrived in England, a fugitive fi-om his army 
in Ireland, and under the heavy displeasure of the 
Court for his treaty with the Irish rebels. His friends 
and kinsmen, Rutland and Southampton, shared his 
disgrace. The while he was committed to the custody 
of the Lord Keeper Bacon, they remained at large, 
passing their time and soothing their mortifications 
(as we learn from the Sydney papers) by "going daUy 
to the plays." In the following spring, when the fall 
of these three eminent courtiers must have been the 
common topic of discom'se, "As you hke it" was first 
brought on the stage. Read over that incomparable 
description of the safety and quietness of a life passed 
in rm'al scenes and engagements, when contrasted 
with the calamities to which com*tiers and statesmen 
are exposed, and you will perhaps agree with Mr. 
Knight that Shakspeare intended to direct the thoughts 
of his audience to the then recent degradation of Essex, 


Rutland, and Soutliampton, if not to suggest to the 
sufferers themselves the possibility of being happy in 
despite of fortune. With this view of the probable, 
or at least of the possible, meaning of that most fas- 
cinating of all Pastorals, listen to the language of the 
exiled Duke: — 

Now my co-mates and brothers in exile, 

Hath not old custom made this life more sweet 

Than that of painted pomp ? Are not these woods 

More free from peril than the envious Court ? 

Here feel we but the penalty of Adam, 

The season's difference ; as, the icy fang, 

And churlish chiding, of the winter's wind ; 

Which, when it bites and blows upon my body, 

E'en till I shrink with cold, I smile and say — 

This is no flatteiy ; these are councillors 

That feelingly persuade me what I am. 

Sweet are the uses of adversity, 

Which, like a toad, ugly and venomous, 

Wears yet a precious jewel in his head. 

And this our life, exempt from pubUc haunts, 

Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, 

Sermons in stones, and good in ever3rthing. 

Or hear the moralising of the melancholy Jaques 
over the poor sequestered stag, that from the hunter's 
" aim had ta'en a hurt," when " the careless herd, 
full of the pasture, jumps along by him, and never 
stays to greet him:" 

Ay, quoth Jaques, sweep on you fat and greasy citizens ; 
Tis just the fashion ! wherefore do you look 
Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there? 

If Essex read, and if Rutland and Southampton 
really heard all this, assuredly they did not read and 
hear it unmoved. Nor perhaps (as Mr. Knight sug- 
gests) did the shaft from the sounding bow of the Poet 
leave unwounded the heart of Francis Bacon himself. 



When writing, as we know from his own letters, that 
he did writhe under universal reproach for his conduct 
to his benefactor Essex (a reproach the justice of which 
we must not too readily admit, high as are the recent 
authorities which repeat and echo it), what censure 
could sting so keenly as the song of Amiens in this 
drama? — 

Blow, blovr thou Trinter wind, 
Thou art not so unkind 

As man's ingi-atitude : 
Thy tooth is not so keen, 
Because thou art not seen, 

Although thy breath be rude. 
Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky, 
Thou dost not bite so nigh 

As benefits forgot ; 
Though thou the waters warp, 
Thy sting is not so sharp 

As friend remembered not. 

Now let it he supposed that these constructions of 
Shakspeare's latent meaning are erroneous, and that 
he had no real design to comment in these passages 
on the memorahle occurrences of his own times. Even 
on that supposition, they may sufficiently answer my 
immediate purpose. They may illustrate to him who 
has taken the history of England for his meridian line, 
or trunk line, or study, how his deviations into Eng- 
lish poetry may he made suhser^dent to that, his main 
design; how he may make the chronicles and the 
drama reflect Hght on each other; how even while en- 
trancing himself with these glorious creatures of the 
imagination, he may gather hints and suggestions 
numberless, which, while they enhance and justify his 
dehght in the mighty dramatist, may conduct him to 


a more close and critical inquiry into the annals of 
our land, to a more distinct understanding, and a 
firmer remembrance of them. 

My time is rapidly waning ; yet before I conclude 
I could wish to give you still another instance of the 
manner in which our poets may be made the most ef- 
fective auxiliaries to the readers of our historians. We 
Avill overleap the civil wars of the 17th century, the 
Government of Cromwell, and the Restoration, and 
Avill place ourselves in the reign of Charles XL in the 
centre of that society with which Mr. Macaulay has 
made us all so familiar. If any historical writer could 
supersede the function of the poets of the age he cele- 
brates, and render their aid superfluous, it is assur- 
edly to Mr. Macaulay that this power must belong. For 
the boundless affluence of his mind, and the restless ac- 
tivity of his imagination, have thrown over his pages 
a poetical wannth and glow of colouring, and a dra- 
matic rapidity of movement, which deny even a tran- 
sient repose to the faculties of delight and wonder. 
What, for example, more brilliant, more interesting, 
more picturesque, and as it might seem more complete, 
and more defying competition, than his account of the 
Cabals, the invasion, and the death of Monmouth? 
Yet, after reading it once again, turn to the Absalom 
and Achitophel of Dryden, which is in effect a poem 
on the same subject, and you will find that even the 
bold relief in which the historian has chiselled out Mon- 
mouth and his associates, becomes tame and inani- 
mate in the presence of the living sculpture in which 
the poet brings them before you. At the risk of re- 


peating passages whicli many of us have by heart, I 
must vindicate this statement hy quoting the follow- 
ing dehneation of the Lord Chancellor Shaftesbury, 
the Achitophel of the poet: — 

Of these the false Achitophel was worst, 

A name to all succeeding ages curst; 

For close designs, and crooked counsels fit, 

Sagacious, hold, and turhulent of wit. 

Restless, unfixed in principles and place. 

In power unpleased ; familiar with disgrace. 

A fleiy soul which, working out its way, 

Fretted the pigmy body to decay. 

And o'er roform'd the tenement of clay. 

A daring pilot in extremity. 

Pleased with the danger when the waves went high, 

He sought the storms ; but, for a calm xmfit, 

"Would steer too nigh the sands to boast his wit. 

Great wits are sure to madness near allied, 

And thin partitions do their bounds divide, 

Else why should he, with wealth and honours blest, 

Refuse his age the needful hours of rest ; 

Punish a body which he could not please ; 

Bankrupt of life, yet prodigal of ease. 

And all to leave what with his toil he won 

To that unfeathered two-legged thing, a son? 

In Mendship false ; implacable in hate. 

Resolved to ruin or to rule the State. 

Then seized with fear, yet stili affecting fame 
Usm-ped a patriot's all-atoning name. 
So easy still it proves, in factious times. 
With public zeal to cancel private crimes ! 
Yet fame deserved no enemy can grudge, 
The statesman we abhor, but praise the Judga 
In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin 
With more discerning eyes, or hands more clean; 
Unbribed, unsought, the wretched to redress. 
Swift of despatch and easy of access. 
Oh ! had he been content to serve the Crown 
With virtue only proper to the gown, 
David for him his tuneful harp had strung. 
And Heaven had wanted one immortal song. 


With this unparalleled satire, contrast Dry den's 
eulogy on Sir Edward Seymour, once the Speaker of 
the House of Commons, and afterwards one of the 
earliest adherents of the revolution of 1688, of whom 
also Mr. Macaulay has given us so vivid a delineation. 
In Absalom and Achitophel he hears the name of 

Indulge one labour more, my weary muse, 
For Amiel ; who can Amiel's praise refuse ? 
Of ancient race by birth ; but nobler yet 
In his own worth, and, without title, great. 
The Sanhedrim long time as chief he ruled, 
Their reason guided, and their passions cooled. 
So dexterous was he in the Crown's defence. 
So formed to speak a loyal nation's sense, 
That as their band was Israel's tribes in small, 
So fit was he to represent them aU. 
Now rasher charioteers the seat ascend. 
Whose loose careers his ready skill commend. 
They, like the unequal ruler of the day. 
Misguide the seasons, and mistake the way; 
While he, withdrawn, at their mad labours smiles, 
And safe enjoys the Sabbath of his toUs. 

The comparison of these two passages will probably 
have suggested to you the fact of the immense supe- 
riority of the satirical over the laudatory powers of 
Dryden. In this respect he was the very opposite of 
his illustrious pupil and imitator. Parsimonious of 
his applause. Pope has bestowed no praise which has 
not passed into a proverb. Dryden's eulogies are al- 
most universally forgotten, but his censures are im- 

But for any reference to Pope, the time would fail 
me, or I could gladly, however feebly, emulate Lord 
Carlisle's recent and admirable tribute to his genius. 
I must not, however, add another to the many devi- 


ations from mj proper theme into whicli I may seem 
to liave wandered. Yet wliat I have been addressing 
to you has not (in my own apprehension at least) been 
without a certain singleness of design and continuity 
of purpose. 

It has been my endeavour to remind you of the 
high social and moral responsibilities which the recent 
changes in the government of this country have east 
upon us all. I have attempted to show that, as in 
the commencement of the French revolution, the at- 
tempt to render all knowledge accessible to all read- 
ers, disquahfied the great body of the people of France 
for the grateful, vigilant, humble, and self-denying use 
of their new powers ; so a similar attempt in England 
may perhaps be productive here of a not dissimilar 
result. I have sought to convince you that the se- 
lection of some one particular branch of study, and 
the steadfast adherence to it, is the only method by 
which any ordinary man can attain to any such sohd 
and useful learning as will quahfy him for the right 
discharge of his pubHc and his private duties. I have 
insisted however, that his observance of that method 
is compatible with the accumulation of very much 
collateral and subordinate knowledge, which may be 
rendered by each man conducive to the illustration 
of his main and chosen topic. I have added that of 
all topics which could so be chosen by those among 
you who have their choice yet to make, and who have 
no particular propensity to determine it, the History 
of England seems to me the most convenient ; and 
it has been my aim to illustrate that general remark by 


showing in various instances liow a digression to the 
poetry of England (for example) would render her 
history at once more interesting, more intelligible, 
and more fruitful in true wisdom. 

I can anticipate many objections to these counsels, 
and of all such objections few perhaps will more im- 
mediately present themselves to many of you, than 
that I am suggesting a plan of intellectual culture 
for the steadfast pursuit of which nature has not given 
you the indispensable talents, nor fortune the requisite 
facihties. I answer, that my own observation of hfe 
has taught me that, much and frequently as the faults 
of self-confidence and self-conceit are denounced by 
our teachers, they are faults far less widely diffused 
and far less dangerous in their tendency than a timid 
self-distrust, and a craven self-depreciation. Think 
as meanly as you will of your use of your powers, 
but of the powers intrusted to you think reverently 
and highly. Of nature and of fortune as the giver of 
them I know nothing. These are mere ideal abstrac- 
tions — figures of speech inherited from the ojd Pagan 
mythology. But I well know that God has given to 
every one of us far greater talents than any one of us 
has employed stenuously and to the uttermost, and 
far greater opportunities than the best of us has al- 
ways bravely seized, and conscientiously improved. 
If in virtue of my melancholy advantage over you, to 
which I adverted in the onset, of having numbered so 
many years, I might presume to speak as the moni- 
tor of those whom I address, my whole exhortation to 
them might be comprised in a single word, and that 



one word would be ^'Aspire.''' But I spare you any 
further counsels of my own, because I can expand and 
clotbe tbat single word in tbe language of one of tbe 
wittiest, the wisest, and the holiest of the poets of whom 
England has to boast. In the words of George Her- 
bert, therefore, let me say, and I will conclude with 

Pitcli thy behaviour low, thy projects high ; 

So Shalt thou humhle and magnanimous he ; 
Sink not in spirit ; who aimeth at the sky 

Shoots higher much than he that means a tree. 
A grain of glory mixed with humhleness 
Cures hoth a fever and lethargicness. 







The raw material used by Industry in tlie production 
of useful objects doubtless forms the starting point 
for manufactui-es, altbough it possesses a fluctuating 
value in relation to that of the object into which it is 
converted. In the successful prosecution of manu- 
factures, apart from the influence of capital and mere 
brute labour, two elements are involved, each form- 
ing a factor which in a competition of Industry may 
be made to assume very different values. The first 
element is the raw material; the second, the skill 
and knowledge, or, in other words, the intellectual 
labour used in adapting it to the purposes for which 
it is designed. In America, cotton being indigenous, 
is cheap ; and fuel, the other raw material employed 
in its conversion to a textile fabric, is not costly. In 
England, the same cotton is much dearer, while the 


fuel may be assumed to be equal in price. The com- 
petition between the two countries, in respect to 
cahco, resolves itself into the necessity that England, 
to overcome the disadvantage of the increased cost of 
the raw material, must infuse a greater amount of 
skilled labour into the processes employed to adapt it 
to useful purposes. England has succeeded in doing 
this ; and, consequently, the mills of Manchester may 
render unproductive the mills of Lowell. But reverse 
the conditions of the two coimtries, and a similar 
result attests the truth of the same principle. Shef- 
field produces steel, which is exported in large quan- 
tity as a raw material to America. The history of 
that country has created a knowledge of the condi- 
tions required for the manufacture of edge-tools. The 
forests were not cleared, or the prairies converted 
into arable land, without that observing nation under- 
standing the quaHties and the requirements of the 
axe, the adze, and the spade. The knowledge thus 
attained was applied to the manufacture of edge-tools ; 
and America returns to England its own steel, but 
under a new form, and endowed with an excellence, 
a temper, and a cheapness yet unattained by our 
artisans. Without this apphcation of greater skill it 
would have been impossible for America to have com- 
peted with the country producing the raw material. 

A nation, if it combine ordinary intelligence with 
its local advantages of cheap raw material, may long 
preserve almost a monopoly in special manufactures, 
and will continue to do bo, either until the competin 
nation has risen so high above her in inteUigence as 


to make this more than an equivalent for the local 
advantage of the other, or until a greater equalization 
in the price of the raw material renders a small 
amount of superiority in the intellectual element of 
sufficient importance to secure successful competi- 

But should any great transition of the world take 
place, by which local advantages were levelled, and 
the raw material confined to one country became 
readily attainable by all at a sHght diiference in its 
cost, then competition in industry must become a 
competition in intellect ; and the nation which most 
quickly promotes the intellectual development of its 
artizans must, by an inevitable law of nature, advance ; 
whilst the country which neglects this industrial 
training must as inevitably recede. 

It is apparent that we are rapidly approaching to, 
if we have not yet arrived at, that period of wonder- 
ful transition, when nations must speedily acquii-e 
the levels due to their different amounts of intellec- 
tual development, or in other words, to the relative 
proportion of skilled and brute labour available to 
their industries. 

It is quite true that a superabundance of capital 
may for a time preserve a country from a quick de- 
pression, even should it neglect its intellectual train- 
ing ; but the support thus given can only be tempo- 
rary and illusory, for though the purchase of foreign 
talent may infuse the necessary knowledge into home 
manufactm'cs, this must have the ultimate effect of 
raising the intellectual element in the foreign country, 


and thus finally accelerate its success as a competing 

There never was a time when it was so necessary 
as now that science should be united with capital 
and labour for the promotion of the industrial arts. 
At former periods of human history, local advantages 
or accidental combinations were the foundations of a 
nation's prosperity. The time is not distant when 
it was thought that the possession of mineral fuel 
indicated a country as the natural manufactory of 
the necessaries of life employing machinery for their 
production ; while the existence of large tracts of 
land, warmed by a genial sun, stamped another nation 
as essentially agricultural, and employed its popula- 
tion in the labours of the field. Each country fell 
into a routine of manufacture ; and Italy and France 
produced their silks and shawls, with as Httle thought 
of competition as England in the case of its machiner}" 
and calicoes. 

The progress of science has not only created re- 
sources unthought of before, but has also removed 
the local barriers opposed to the progress of Industry. 
Countries are no longer confined in their aspu'ations 
by smallness of territory, for even this by the aid of 
science is capable of great extension. A country 
able in its agricultural poverty to support only a 
scanty and miserable population, expands itself for 
the reception of increased numbers as the produce of 
its land augments, and thus knowledge, in improv- 
ing agriculture, wins by a bloodless victory vast 
additional territory to aid in the industrial re- 


sources of the nation ; for a land, with a twofold 
increase in agricultural production, has, for all prac- 
tical purposes, unfolded itself to twice its size. 
Science in its progress improves and simplifies pro- 
cesses of manufacture, while it opens at the same 
time a communication hetween the nations of the 
earth. The amazing faciHties of transport afforded 
by the introduction of steam enables a ready inter- 
change of their natural riches ; and mere adventitious 
local advantages, apart from skill and science in their 
adaptation, become of much less moment than they 
formerly were. The proof of this is in the fact, that 
the staple manufactures are now carried on in all 
parts of Europe, and that there is a constantly in- 
creasing and active competition of most of the great 
nations in all the markets of the world. If England 
stiR continue in advance, it will not be from the abun- 
dance of her coal and iron, but because, uniting science 
with practice, she enables her discoveries in philosophy 
to keep pace with her aptitude in applying them. 

But is it true that England does act thus wisely ; 
and is it true that science does hold in this country 
its just position in pubhc esteem, or that it is fostered 
sufficiently to make that progress which it is now 
doing in other lands ? To all such questions a negative 
reply must be given ; for beyond a theoretical recog- 
nition of the importance of science in its relations to 
practice, the state and the public only look to the em- 
pirical result, and have not deemed it necessary to fos- 
ter the knowledge producing it.* Now England is the 

* Since this lecture was given the government have made some advances 


only European state thus blind to its own interests, 
and not yet thoroughly awakened to the importance of 
giving an intellectual training to those intrusted with 
its manufactures. This is shown by the large en- 
dowments given by foreign governments for the sup- 
port of institutions connected with Industrial Science, 
and it finds expression in the writings of their think- 
ing men. "An equal appreciation of all parts of 
knowledge," says Humboldt, " is an especial require- 
ment of the present epoch, in which the material 
wealth and the increasing prosperity of nations are 
in a great measure based on a more enhghtened em- 
ployment of natural products and forces. The most 
superficial glance at the present condition of Euro- 
pean states shows, that those which linger in the race 
cannot hope to escape the partial diminution and 
perhaps the final annihilation of their resources. It 
is with nations as with nature, which, according to a 
happy expression of Groethe, knows no pause in ever- 
increasing movement, development, and production — 
a curse still cleaving to standing still. 

" Nothing but serious occupation with chemistry 
and natural and physical science can defend a state 
from the consequences of competition. Man can pro- 
duce no effect upon nature, or appropriate her powers, 
unless he is conversant with her laws, and with their 
relations to material objects according to measure 
and numbers. And in this hes the power of popular 
inteUigence, which rises or falls as it encourages or 

in infusing science into general education, and a Department of the 
Board of Trade is specially charged to diffuse scientific instruction through 
the country. 


neglects this study. Science and information are the 
joy and justification of mankind. They form the 
springs of a nation's wealth, being often, indeed, sub- 
stitutes for those material riches which nature has in 
many cases distributed with so partial a hand. 
Those nations which remain behind in manufacturing 
activity, by neglecting the practical apphcations of 
the mechanical arts and of industrial chemistry, to 
the transmission, growth, or manufacture of raw 
materials — those nations among whom respect for 
such activity does not pervade all classes— must 
inevitably fall from any prosperity they may have 
attained ; and this by so much the more certainly 
and speedily as neighbouring states, instinct with 
the power of youthful renovation, in which science 
and the arts of industry operate or lend each other 
mutual assistance, are seen pressing forward in the 

It is but the overflowings of science that thus 
enter into and animate industry. In its study we 
are never sure that the morrow may not gladden the 
world with an application of a principle to-day 
abstract, and apparently remote from practice This 
is a truth above all things necessary to convert into 
a hving faith in the minds of those who devote their 
lives to its practical apphcations. Nothmg is more 
erroneous in their case than to neglect the acquisition 
of abstract scientific truths because they appear 
remote from practice. I do not admit that it is 
even wise to address to oneself the question cui bono f 
Science is too lofty for measurement by the yard of 


utility ; — too inestimable for expression by a money 
standard. These grovelling ideas of the objects of 
science, which constantly jar it in its intercourse with 
the world, ought to find no response in the breast of 
any devotee who would draw inspiration from its 
shrine. But whilst I protest against the indulgence 
of a mere utiHtarian appetite for science, I think it 
infinitely advantageous to examine it in its practical 
relations to life ; yet, it must never be forgotten, 
that though the object of industrial study is to view 
science in its beneficent overflowings of kindness to 
man, these material benefits arise fi'om the very ftd- 
ness of its measure. If we revert to the intellectual 
wanderings of science in its search for truth, it be- 
comes surprising how soon it shook off the trammels 
of ignorance, and sprang into a glorious hbei*ty. Let 
us recollect how much science has advanced within 
the last three centuries, and even her past history 
becomes more remarkable in its progress than the 
present. It is no mean task for intellect to leap 
over the baniers of prejudice and ignorance raised by 
an assumed knowledge ; it is even more easy to go 
onward in new and untrodden paths. It was only 
at the end of the sixteenth century that the Council 
of Sages at Salamanca negatived the idea of a western 
continent, by the writings of Lactantius. " Is there 
any one so fooHsh," says he, " as to beheve that there 
are antipodes with their feet opposite to ours ; people 
who walk with their heels upwards and their heads 
hanging down ? That there is a part of the world 
in which all things are topsy-turvy ; where the trees 


grow with their branches downwards, and where it 
rains, hails, and snows upwards ?" Do we not know 
that Columbus was told b)'- the Sages, that were he 
to succeed in saihng down the rotundity of the earth, 
its bulging out would prevent him ever saihng 
up again ; and do we not remember with what a 
steadfast faith in abstract truth he saw beyond " the 
region of the torrid zone, scorched by a blazing sun, 
a region of fire, where the very waves which beat 
upon the shores boiled under the intolerable fervour 
of the heavens ?" Eecollect that these were the 
opinions of a time when the utmost national en- 
couragement was given to intellectual progress, and 
that it was not very many years after the death of 
Prince Henry of Portugal, who gave that glorious 
motto to princes, " the talent to do good." Recollect 
that this ignorance was manifested in the brightest 
time of the reign of the enhghtened Isabella of Castile, 
and you will be surprised with me that science has 
since that time achieved what it has. Had Columbus 
not investigated the abstract truths of cosmography, 
the western continent, even with the advantasre of 
the "astrolabe," would perhaps for a century have 
remained unknown. It is easy to make an egg 
stand on its end when the way is shown how to do 
it. The apphcations of science are not difficult, 
but without the science there are no apphcations. 
The philosophy of our times does not expend itself 
as it did in the middle ages, in furious discussions 
on mere scholastic triviahties, or unmeaning ques- 
tions in theology. The scholastic learning of the 


middle ages was much confmed to ecclesiastics, and 
it is not sui'prising to find both classical and theo- 
logical literature engrafting itself upon the science of 
the time, and forcing it into the discussion of ques- 
tions very foreign to its nature. It was a curious 
mixture of theology and science when the most 
learned men agitated themselves on subjects such as 
— the manner in which angels are nourished ? — 
whether they usually speak Hebrew or Greek ? — 
who are the spirits entrusted vdih the distribution 
of hghtning and hail, and to whom are confided the 
digestive powers of animals ? — whether Adam, before 
the fall, was acquainted with the Liber Senteniianrm 
of Petrus Lombardus ? The polemics of a past age 
do but faintly represent the search after absti*act 
truth of the present. Yet you are in no position 
even now to treat with derision the past errors of 
philosophy. The man who is on the mountain com- 
plains of the fog obstructing his view, while the 
inhabitant of the plain speaks of it as a cloud capping 
the mountain. Both are right, but read the pheno- 
menon in a different sense. Yet only he that was in 
the fog could rightl}'' appreciate its dai'kness, or fully 
understand the force of the rising sun that dissipated 
it* obscurity. The progress of knowledge, — the 
search after truth, — can scarcely be recognized in its 
subUmity by those who do not understand the errors 
which had to be swept away before it could advance 
in an uninterrupted path. 

There are very few instances in the history of 
science of a sudden development of great discoveries, 


either by being illumined from darkness in a flood 
of light from genius, or betrayed through some acci- 
dental and straggling ray. The growth of scientific 
discovery is slow ; nor does it, Hke the prophet's 
gourd, spring into full fruit in a single night. The 
great discoveries of science leave behind them no 
boundary hne of demarcation from those which have 
preceded, but, like the full day succeeding the dawn 
of the sun, follow that which fully foretold their 
approach. The telescope and microscope did not 
open their wonders to an unexpected and startled 
world, but crept into being with steps so slow that 
their impression is not sufficient to trace out the 
history of their progress. The improvements in the 
steam-engine were so gradual that a court of law, only 
half a century since, gave a solemn judgment that 
Watt had done nothing essential towards them. The 
compass cannot point to us the period when it offered 
its inestimable services to man, nor has paper left a 
record of its discoverer. In fact, all great practical 
discoveries are the result of much study, the exponent 
of a long series of observations, and often arise out of 
those truths of science which appeared least promis- 
ing on theu' first announcement. Boyle knew that 
he wrote an imperishable truth when he titled his 
Essay " Man's great ignorance of the uses of Natural 
Things ; or, that there is no one thing in Nature 
whereof the uses to Human Life are yet thoroughly 
undersiood." This truth of the seventeenth centurj" 
is no less true in the nineteenth, the history of the 
intermediate time having been, as Sir John HersChel 


justly remarks, but one commentary on the text. 
The everyday progress of the arts abounds in new 
appHcations of objects the most familiar. 

Practical, Hke abstract science, has no hmits. The 
Romans thought themselves at the culmmating point 
of civilization ; and the Grreeks, pluming themselves 
in their inventiveness, could not conceive that the 
world would ever take a higher flight. Even in our 
times, like opinions are entertained ; because igno- 
rance cannot see over the heights raised by modern 
science in taking its wide view of creation. These 
conceited ideas of a nation or of an age have no 
foundation. Science may see an horizon bounding 
her view ; but as she proceeds onward the horizon 
constantly recedes, and shows the limit to be alto- 
gether illusory. In one time and generation a nation 
may, Hke Newton, pick up a few pebbles on the 
seashore, while the boundless ocean of science lies 
beyond, with aU its vast and unexplored treasures. 

Empiricism has frequently been a substitute for 
science ; a lame and sluggish substitute, it is true, 
but nevertheless one that in the history of mind has 
had much of influence.* Gunpowder was known be- 
fore the condensed gases which it contains were 
recognized or understood ; and it was used to kill 
man, without a knowledge that man himself is httle 
more than air similarly condensed. Man succeeded 
in compressing air into the form of food, without 
having the sHghtest conception of the character of 
the atmosphere out of which this wondrous trans- 

* Vide Liebig's Letters on Chemistry. 


formation was effected. Without an acquaintance 
with the laws of atmospheric pressure, mills and 
pumps were formed. Glass was made from the ashes 
of the fern, and china from kaohn, without even their 
ingredients being known. The length of the year 
was determined, and the duration of the seasons ex- 
plained, before the law of gravitation was suspected. 
All this, it is true, arose without science, but required 
ages to grow into a stunted and feeble childhood; 
while no sooner did science infuse new health than a 
few short years produced a vigorous manhood. Igno- 
rance may gi'ope in darkness on the confines of an 
unexplored region, but to proceed steadily and se- 
curely onwards she must borrow the lamp of science 
to guide her. Newton, "that glory to his species," 
as Chalmers calls him, did, by the exposition of the 
law of gravitation, produce more real practical bene- 
fits to industry than all the preceding ages of empi- 
ricism. Navigation and commerce sprang from his 
time into a state of development formerly impossible ; 
and every nation and every human being enjoys from 
him, and to the end of time will enjoy, actual mate- 
rial benefits which an eternity of empiricism could 
not have produced. The hard-won experience of two 
thousand years of the Chinese in regard to porcelain 
was given to the European by a few years' applications 
of science. The progressive improvements in com- 
munication, which allowed our kings to transmit a 
message to Edinburgh in five days, now enable us to 
send it in less time than their " post-haste messen- 
ger" could have saddled his horse. But these, and 


other triumplis of mind over mere empirical experi- 
ence, arose in a steady progress of abstract science, 
the practical appHcations appearing merely as oft- 
shoots. It is my chief object to show that abstract 
science is necessary to the development of practice, 
and that it is above all things required as a part of 
the education of a man who is to devote his life to 
productive industry. There is no vein of science too 
abstract for futm-e industrial apphcation — none yet 
thoroughly mined out and exhausted. Volumes might 
be filled with illustrations of the practical benefits 
produced by the apphcation of discoveries apparently 
the most unpromising in theu' origin ; but a few only 
can be selected in support of the text of my argument. 
The most "practical" man — a title too often used 
by the Enghsh manufacturer to envelope his igno- 
rance — could not have objected to the marvellous 
development of truth arising from the study of hght, 
that messenger from the sun sent at the rate of 
180,000 miles in a second, to illumine our earth with 
the glory of its parent. It was wondrous to be told 
that the hght of yonder far-distant fixed star, travel- 
ling without cessation at the same incredible speed, 
and which has this night struck our wondering eyes, 
started in its long and weary course a nulhon of 
years since, and has now for the first time shed its 
pale Hght on such points in time and space as oiu*- 
selves. It is even with awe that he reads of that hidden 
but tremendous power, situated in a point in space 
between the two stars ^ and ^ in the constellation 
Hercules, which drags our sun and all its planets at 


the rate of 154 millions of miles in a year, or nearly 
tifty-seven miles in a second. The sublimity of these 
truths awes the utihtarian, and hushes his half-uttered 
question of cui bono ? But show him a young officer 
of artillery looking through a prism at the windows 
of the palace of the Luxembourg, and noticing that, 
in a particular position, the light of these windows 
disappeared from his view — show him, further, the 
startled wonder with which the philosophers of 
Europe heard of this phenomenon, and the eagerness 
with which they threw themselves into the track of 
an observation apparently so insignificant, — and your 
utilitarian sneers at science and its followers, and 
buries himself again in the darkness of his empiricism. 
The Hght reflected from the palace of the Luxem- 
bourg had suffered a change similar to that expe- 
rienced by ordinary hght in passing through doubly 
refracting Iceland spai'. When a ray of this changed 
or 2^olarized light is passed through plates of crystal- 
lized substances, briUiant colours and a pecuhar struc- 
tm-e are observed. These remarkable phenomena 
were indeed well worthy of the attention of scientific 
observers. Nothing, however, could appear more 
remote from practice than the study of an altered 
beam of hght. It was most intei^sting that, as in 
the case of sound, where two sounds reaching the ear 
either exalt or destroy the effect, so, in hght, two 
rays interfering with each other may produce dark- 
ness. Much of the Hght from reflecting surfaces was 
found to possess this changed condition. The light, 
coming from the surface of water, being thus altered, 


refuses to pass through a " Meolls' prism " in a 
particular direction. If, therefore, you look at the 
shadow of a man on a smooth lake, on turning round 
the prism the shadow disappears, while the man, seen 
by common light, remains visible. The story of 
Peter Schhmmel is thus realized. But who, from 
these curious observations, would have dreamt that 
out of them would come useful apphcations ? 

In a short time, however, this property of the 
polarizing prism was applied to the important pm*- 
pose of detecting rocks and shoals at sea. It had 
long been the practice of mariners, when they sus- 
pected the existence of shoals, to look out for them 
from the masthead, because the outlook in his ver- 
tical position shut out much of the Hght that dazzled 
and obstructed his view when on deck. But as much 
of this dazzling reflected light is polarized, it is ob- 
vious that the polarizing prism enables the observer 
to scan the depths of the ocean, uninterrupted by 
its glare. Behold then the light which struck the 
student's eye when gazing on the Luxembourg used 
to preserve man from the hazards of the sea. It was 
easy to apply it in new directions ; and the sahnon- 
fisher speared fish at depths inaccessible to his unaided 
vision ; while the engineer used its searching powers 
to discover the laws of tension in beams. Mechanics 
and chemistry both pressed it to further their re- 
sources. Under the hands of a Biot, a ray of polar- 
ized light performed with magical quickness the 
most refined but tedious operations of the analytical 
chemist, and enabled him to tell the amount of sugar 


in the cane or beet juice, or in specimens of sugar 
offered for sale. Even the custom-house officers on 
the continent now determine the value of samples of 
sugar by polarized hght. Biot by aid of his instru- 
ment foUowed the increasing richness of sugar in the 
juices of various plants at different stages of their 
growth, and was enabled to suggest a more economi- 
cal adaptation of the labour applied to their cultiva- 
tion. By the same ray of Hght the size of distant 
objects may be measured, and even time may record 
its passage. This latter apphcation, made by Wheat- 
stone, is especially remarkable, and gives a means 
more accurate and useful than the sun-dial of deter- 
mining the apparent solar time by the diurnal 
changes of the plane of polarization at the north 
pole of the sky. By availing himself of the fact, 
that the planes of polarization in the north pole of 
the sky change exactly as the position of the hour 
circle alters, he has adapted a simple and ingenious 
apparatus, by which the true time may be told within 
three minutes. Some of these apphcations are as 
yet more suggestive than extensively carried out in 
industry ; yet, however viewed, it wiU be admitted 
that they are strange paths to practice, opened up by 
a ray accidentally caught in its passage from a window 
of the Luxembourg. Leave, however, its utilitarian- 
ism to view its unfolding of nature's laws, and follow 
the same straggling ray, as it silently displays its 
gorgeous colours while passing through a transparent 
mineral substance, until it enables man to resolve 
such questions as to whether the light of the sun 


proceeds from its solid mass or from its gaseous can- 
opy, or whether comets enjoy light of their own, or 
borrow it by reflection from other bodies. 

I now pass to light in its ordinary form, and ask 
you to examine the importance of studying its ab- 
stract phenomena. The world had long known that 
salts of silver were blackened by exposure to light ; 
and the fact became famihar by then- use as cauteries, 
or as indehble inks for linen. Wedgwood proposed to 
apply this means to fix the fleeting pictures of the ca- 
mera obscura ; but the results of his experiments being 
imperfect, the suggestion itself was almost forgotten. 
In the meantime chemists pursued their abstract 
discoveries, and without relation to this want inves- 
tigated the properties of gallic acid, and of the iodide 
of bromine, and found a class of salts termed the 
hyposulphites. Some of these bodies possessed pro- 
perties accelerating the blackening of silver salts by 
hght ; the others prevent the further blackening 
when apphed. Philosophers began now to revert to 
the old idea, for truth is never lost, though its reaHty 
may be incapable of proof at a given time ; and thus 
various unconnected discoveries began to react one 
upon the other, mitil man was able to use the sun 
as the painter of the pictures exhibited and enhvened 
by his glory. So perfect became the art, by new 
adaptations of other discoveries, that the most fleet- 
ing objects can be depicted. The flash of hghtniug 
exhibits its fiery streak on these sun-painted pictures. 
The tossing out of lavas, the vomiting forth of smoke, 
and the bellowing of flame from craters in their wild- 


est moods, are pourtraj^ed with unerring fidelity ; the 
tumultuous dashing of the cataract, and the slight 
rippHng of the stream, the cm'ling of the wave, the 
changing forms of the clouds, the sparkhng of the 
rain-drop, and the passing expressions of the soul as 
displaj^ed in the human countenance, are all capable 
of being preserved in these paintings by natm'e. 
Nay, the truthfulness of the sun-painted landscape is 
so great that from the very shadows of the picture 
the altitude of the sun may be determined ; and the 
time at which it was taken being known, the latitude 
of the locality may be eHcited. Artists now use this 
appHcation of hght to acquire models for study ; and 
the engineer employs it to obtain proofs of the exact 
state and progress of the works superintended by him. 
Doubtless the sun will be hereafter compelled to fix 
those transitory coloured glories which it now imparts 
to natural objects ; and not till then should man cease 
to question that lominary as to the means of accom- 
pHshing this end. I need not say that this art is 
but disclosing its future appHcations. Ah-eady can 
we use the sun to record observations too delicate for 
man's perception. The constant and momentary 
excm'sions of the magnet, the ever-recurring varia- 
tions of the thermometer and barometer, are now 
recorded by Hght with a fidelity and precision un- 
attainable by the most conscientious and unremitting 

In fact no subject is so fertile in illustration of my 
position as that of light. The practical man can even 
admii'e Euler in his closet working out his idea, as 


Brewster remarks, of an achromatic telescope, even 
should he love Dollond the more for making it. But 
however tempting to urge such interesting examples, 
I must conclude the subject with two more cases. 
Colours in bodies may either be due to the fact that 
all their particles are endowed with the properties of 
absorbing certain of the coloured rays and rejecting 
others, which reaching the eye give to them their 
pecular colours ; or the colours may be owing to a par- 
ticular mechanical arrangement of certain of their 
parts. Thus mother of pearl is found to have a pecu- 
liarly grooved structure, like the skin of an infant on 
the top of its finger, or hke the section of the rings 
on a plank of fir. These grooves cause an interference 
of the light as it plays on the surface of mother of 
pearl, and the pecuhar colom*s are observed in pro- 
portion to their frequency, the number of grooves 
varying from 2,000 to 5,000 in an inch . This fact 
is apphed to the manufacture of Birmingham but- 
tons, by rulmg 4,000 hues to an inch on a steel die, 
and striking with this brass buttons, which then, 
especially in candlehght, sparkle in iridiscence with 
the brilliancy of the diamond. Insect and beetle 
wings, the scales of fishes, and the feathers of birds, 
owe their gorgeous colours to their substance being 
composed of plates of unequal thickness^. When hght 
is transmitted through a transparent body with pai'- 
allel surfaces it passes through white. But if thin 
plates of unequal thickness be exposed to light, certain 
of the coloured rays of the latter are stifled or ar- 
rested, while others are more readily reflected, and 


the most various coloured results may be thus ob- 
tained. By a simple process, De La Eue places 
thin plates of vamish or of collodion on paper, and 
obtains wedding stationery of gayest character, or 
paper hangings sparkling hke mother of pearl. 

These instances will suflRce to show that the study 
of abstract laws, so far as regards Hght, produces as 
offshoots important practical applications ; and in 
each department of science, like lessons may be 
taught. There never was an age so rich m practical 
applications as that in which we live, and it is m- 
teresting to see them drawn from truths long familiar 
to man, and apparently beyond the range of utili- 
tarian appHcation. When Madame Gralvani, for the 
cure of a cold, was dressing some frogs and observed 
that convulsions were produced in their legs from 
their proximity to an electric machine, who could 
have prophesied that this observation would entirely 
alter the character of a future century ? and yet it is 
but an appHcation of this discovery, itself but the 
supplement to observations made since the time of 
Thales of Miletus, and extended, by many subsequent 
researches, that annihilates space and time, — that 
empowers our thought to travel with the speed and 
with the power of Hghtning to the most distant land, 
and enables minds to be reciprocated without being 
aiTcsted by distance in space. Who could have 
dreamt that the same discovery of Gralvani would in 
future join continents, in spite of intervening seas, 
and give more security to nations than cordons of 
soldiers and fleets at sea, by rendering sudden inva- 


sioii all but impossible ? At the late Exhibition 
you had a singular proof of this quick interchange of 
inteUigence, for every morning you could buy at a 
trifling cost a map showing the state of the wind, of 
the barometer and thermometer, in all the principal 
towns in Great Britain dm'ing the previous day. You 
have already seen how useful may be made this dis- 
covery ; for a transit of a star at Greenwich and at 
Paris may be instantaneously recorded, and their 
respective longitudes verified. As a means of com- 
municating intelligence, its powers are not yet nearly 
developed ; for in its mercantile communications it 
produces consequences no less individually important 
than its general results, such as when it leaves the 
hurrying tempest a laggard in its path by sending 
information to distant provinces of the approach of 
a tornado, time being thus given to provide against 
the fury of the storm. It is rare indeed that briUiant 
discoveries, such as the electric telegraph,* flash 
matured across a human intellect, and in a generation 
produce such mighty results. It is true that some 
of the most wonderful discoveries have been sha- 
dowed forth by a sudden inspiration ; but in few 
cases has this shadow appeared as a picture with all 
its Hghts and shades. Before steam had been subju- 
gated to the service of man, in accelerating his transit 
on land or water, Darwin had said, 

" Soon shall thine ann, unconquered steam, afar 
Drag the slow barge, or move the rapid car." 

* The electric telegraph, as now used, is a discovery in science, ajid not 
a mere application or invention; for it was a most important discovery 
that the earth itself could be used as part of the circuit 


By a similar prophetic spirit, resulting, however, pai'tly 
from induction, Goethe saw that the parts of flowers 
are metamorphosed leaves, and Oken, when stumbhng 
over a bleached skull, perceived that the osseous 
system was constructed on the vertebral type. But 
it was only by patient and long-contmued study that 
these thoughts became substantive reahties. This is 
essentially the case with electricity, which is but now 
beginning to reward mankind at large for all the 
patient investigations of the philosopher. Already 
has the fierce lightning allowed itself to be dragged 
from its course, and conducted tranquilly to places 
where its fury is dissipated without injury to man. 
Even in its fiery flashings in the wide expanse of the 
ocean, it submits to the intellect of a Franklin, leav- 
ing unscathed the ship as it rolls on the stormy 
waves. Providence, in His beneficence to man, has 
allowed him to find " a way for the Hghtning of 
thunder." Artificially formed, it allows itself to be 
conducted through land and sea, himably serving the 
purpose of man,, by blowing up mines, or enabling 
him to rescue treasures from sunken vessels. 

This immaterial power produces material results at 
places fixed on by the will of man ; and London may 
now fire a friendly salute at the InvaHdes, while Paris 
returns the compHment with the guns of the Tower. 
Although electricity is not yet used with economy 
as a motive power, the obstacle is only in the cost ; 
and even this may be resolved as discoveries pro- 

The passage of electricity is so rapid that its 


journey to Paris can scarcely be expressed in time, 
yet it may be controlled, and used to record time's 
own progress ; for nothing is more accurate than 
clocks worked by its power. It would not be diffi- 
cult to have all the clocks in a town worked with 
perfect uniformity by the aid of electricity. 

Electricity now plates with gold and silver the 
baser metals ; copies in metal from more perishable 
materials the most exquisite designs and forms ; 
perpetuates the skiU of the engraver, by multiplying, 
at a tiifling cost, his elaborately engraved plates ; and 
separates and purifies the metals, formerly only ob- 
tainable by tedious and complex chemical operations. 

Electiicity offers for your hghthouses light of a 
brilliancy the most intense, and asks you to substitute 
the light gas which streams through the streets by 
a still more ethereal existence, running along simple 

Even in the smallest offices of good-will to man 
it refuses not aid, and offers to teU the perfumer 
whether his essential oils are adulterated with cheaper 
fatty substances, as willingly as it lends aid to the 
chemist in the minute operations of his laboratory 
practice, or kindly ministers with the physician to 
allay human suffering and restore wasted strength. 
Recollect, that aU these are but the beginning of its 
applications, and that we know not to what extent 
they may be carried out ; and rejoice with me that 
philosophers studied its abstract laws, from the know- 
ledge of which these applications have arisen. 

I have no time to extract further examples from 


physics or meteorology, but I cannot refrain from 
directing a passing glance at the beautiful discoveries 
of Colonel Sir William Eeid. Studying the pheno- 
mena of a hurricane at Barbadoes, he was led to ex- 
amine the courses of all recorded hurricanes, and thus 
elicited the simple law that hurricanes and many 
gales are progressive whirlwinds, revolving in the 
direction of the hands of a watch in the southern, 
and in the reverse direction in the northern hemis- 
phere, but moving along in their mass at the same 
time. The variable winds in a hurricane now be- 
come intelligible, and a mariner may use them to 
steer out of its course, and prevent himself from 
being overwhelmed in its vortex. To be wrecked in 
a hurricane, wdth an open sea, can now only result 
from a lamentable ignorance of scientific laws ; for 
knowledge has triumphed over the terrors of the storm. 
The domain of meteorology is becoming fruitful in 
apphcations, for science begins to encircle the ap- 
parently capricious phenomena of weather by laws 
which will become more and more defined. But 
time will not permit me to refer even to a few of the 
applications arising from the study of this subject by 
American savans, nor dare I do more than allude to 
the bold project of a simultaneous burning of forests 
and prairies in their annual clearings so as to procure 
artificial winds from moist districts to fertilize with 
rain the arid plains. 

Turn your attention to chemistry proper, and see 
how this science supports the text of the argument. 
It is an old science, and from the time of Tubal-cain 

72 LYOI^ PLATFAIE, ESQ., C.B., r.K.3. 

to that of Liebig has been progressing steadily on- 
wards, though not always with similar aims and aspi- 
rations. The alchemist erred, as England now errs, 
by valuing and studying only practical apphcations, 
instead of searching for abstract laws. Health, 
wealth, and longevity comprised their aspirations, in 
the place of eternal truth. But these objects were 
sufficiently important to produce in their search " a 
zeal allied to madness," and facts became accumulated 
of infinite importance to the science when it attained 
self-consciousness, and learned to value itself for its 
nobler ends. No later than the time of Henry IV., 
a royal edict reconmD ended that " the clergy should 
search for the philosopher's stone, for since they can 
change bread and wine into the body and blood of 
Christ, they must also, by the help of God, succeed 
in transmuting the baser metals into gold." 

As soon as chemistry began to be studied for the 
mere sake of abstract truth, then she deigned to 
reward man for his unselfishness by numerous colla- 
teral results having a direct material benefit. 

He who supposes that chemistry is the result of 
practical knowledge derived in its contact with in- 
dustry knows httle of the progress of the human 
mind, or is httle grateful for the infinite develop- 
ment which it has given to human resources and 
human enjoyment. Let us select a few examples of 
absti'act chemical truths bearing on practical appH- 
ances. The miners' safety lamp is a most important 
example of an industrial result depending upon pure 
induction from abstract science. An element of de- 


struetion, appai*ently uncontrollable by human power, 
had to be subjugated so completely as to be put 
under the management of the most uneducated miner. 
More dreadful in its effects than those of the light- 
ning and the earthquake, firedamp, the scourge of the 
miner, seemed to defy investigation even as a scien- 
tific phenomenon. By a pure inductive method, such 
as a Bacon would have loved to witness, Davy 
traced its history, step by step, until he fully made 
out all its characters. He discovered that it in reality 
requires a very high heat for ignition, the tempera- 
tm'e of red-hot iron or charcoal being insufficient to 
inflame it. The gas was found not to explode in 
narrow tubes, as these cool it below the point of igni- 
tion ; and a netw^ork of iron wire is only a series of 
sectional tubes. A lamp surrounded by wire gauze is 
now constructed, and this allows a Hght to be carried 
into the most dangerous mine with perfect safety. 
What a wonderful discovery is this ! The destruc- 
tive gnome of the mine is imprisonec^ within a cage 
of mere wire gauze, and, vainly, struggling to escape, 
heats to redness the bars of its prison. Science, to 
its ^lory, has destroyed those scenes of death and 
heart-sickening misery which haunted the miner in 
his most peaceful hours, and has rendered safe an 
occupation formerly one of dread and danger. Not- 
withstanding that we have still too frequently to 
lament the most deplorable catastrophes in mines, it 
may be safely averred that they only occur because 
the discoveries of science have been neglected. 

When Dumas, in investigating the laws of subtitu- 


tion, discovered a new body iii the distillation of 
alcohol and bleaching powder, interesting indeed in its 
chemical formula, but capable of being sneered at by 
those who see science at a distance, through the 
wrong end telescopic view of its commercial produc- 
tiveness, who could have dreamt that this chloroform 
was destined to remove many of the woes which man 
is heir to, by mitigatmg pain, and preventing its 
occurrence even in the most severe surgical operations ? 
In 1842, I had the pleasure of travelling with the 
Dean of Westminster and Liebig over different parts 
of England. Among other places visited was a lime- 
stone region in the neighbom-hood of Clifton, where 
in former times saurian reptiles had been the pirates 
of the sea. There, along with the relics of the fishes 
on which they had preyed, were their own animal 
remains. Coprohtes, as these are termed, existed in 
great abundance, and proved the extraordinary num- 
ber of the reptiles which must have existed dur- 
ing the deposition of the limestone. The interest- 
ing question arose as to whether these excretions 
of extinct animals contained the mineral ingre- 
dients of so much value in animal manure. The 
question in fact not yet being solved by the chemist, 
specimens were taken, in order to confirm by chemical 
analysis the views of the geologist. After Liebig 
had completed his analysis, he saw that they might 
be made applicable to practical pm*poses. " What a 
curious and interesting subject for contemplation ! 
In the remains of an extinct animal world England 
is to find the means of increasing her wealth in agri- 

goyeenme:nt school of mines. 75 

cultural produce, as she lias already found the great 
support of her manufacturing industry in fossil fuel — 
the preserved matter of primeval forests — the remains 
of a vegetable world ! May this expectation be 
realized 1 and may her excellent population be thus 
redeemed from poverty and misery !" I well recollect 
the storm of ridicule raised by these expressions of 
the German philosopher, and yet truth has triumphed 
over scepticism, and thousands of tons of similar ani- 
mal remains are now used in promoting the fertihty 
of our fields. The geological observer, in his search 
after evidences of ancient life, aided by the chemist, 
excavated extinct remains which produced new hfe to 
fixture generations. 

Two years before this, the same German philo- 
sopher, in his researches into the food of plants, had 
drawn attention to the importance of guano as a 
manm'e, and by his intellect wafted fleets to the 
Ichaboes and to the Incas. 

Man gets so accustomed to luxuriqus apphcations 
of science, that he often forgets the searcher of 
abstract truth whose discoveries led to them. No- 
thing is more useful than has been the discovery of the 
lucifer match. Some of us recollect the time when 
the tinder-box was the only artificial means of procur- 
ing hght, and a hvely remembrance of the often un- 
successful efforts, always tedious and lengthy, is re- 
quired fally to appreciate the value of the lucifer 
match. What an improvement it was when a Httle 
bottle containing asbestos moistened with oil of 
vitriol could be carried about, and by dipping matches 


into this, Kght was obtained ! And yet this elegant 
method is now considered clumsy, and is entirely 
superseded in less than ten years. The properties of 
chlorate of potash and of phosphorus became by study 
better understood, and their applica'tion to the pro- 
duction of artificial hght was apparently perfected. 
But the lucifer match maker is dangerous to society, 
and a curse to himself. The transparent waxy phospho- 
rus with which he works must always be kept under 
water, and even then is so hazardous that insurance 
offices decline to insure the premises in which it is 
contained. The heat of the hand causes it to inflame, 
and the worker, even avoiding this, becomes diseased 
and hable to ulcers. The practical man now help- 
lessly lays his wants before the seai'cher of abstract 
truth. Chemists had for some time noticed that 
various bodies assume different forms, as, for example, 
carbon, in the states of diamond, graphite, and char- 
coal. An Austrain chemist. Professor Schrotter, in- 
vestigating the abstract laws of allatropism, inquires 
whether phosphorus has more" than one form, and by 
heat changes the transparent wax into a scarlet body. 
This scarlet substance is the same phosphorus, and 
when thoroughly well prepared, is in a state in which 
it may be kept in the open air, or packed up and 
transported in casks, and is not readily inflamed by 
a gentle heat or by firiction. Physiologically it has 
little action on the body, and yet by proper admix- 
tures makes as good lucifer matches as the ordinary 
dangerous phosphorus. By these discoveries the 
means of giving artificial light may be rendered a safe 


and healthy manufacture, when the practical difficul- 
ties to its preparation on the large scale have been 
overcome by the manufacturers, who have hitherto, 
however, found them to be very serious, 

A French chemist discovers that paper immersed 
in nitric acid unites with that body, and becomes 
highly combustible. Any woody fibre is subsequently 
found to do the same. This observation hes dor- 
mant for years, noticed only as an interesting fact 
under a long and scientific term, in the books of 
chemists. But one day a Swiss chemist annoimces the 
starthng fact, that the peaceful cotton bales of Man- 
chester may be converted into dangerous ammunition 
of war, and that cotton unchanged in its physical 
appearance has been made more destructive than gun- 
powder. There was something appalling in the fact 
of this peaceful representative of industry being made 
to assume such destructive properties, under the 
magic wand of the chemist. The chemist now ex- 
amines cotton in a new form, and trying to purify it, 
finds that it is soluble in ether. "When left exposed, 
the ether quickly evaporates, and the gun-cotton 
retains a skin-like appearance. Surgeons seize the dis- 
covery of the chemist, and gun-cotton dissolved can 
heal the wounds it makes in its dry state. Numerous 
appHcations follow, and man, forgetting his fear, uses 
the gun-cotton to silver mirrors, and to produce the 
portraits of his friends on glass, by a process speedy 
as the Daguerreotype, or to decorate wedding sta- 
tionery which he sends fearlessly to his friends. 
Another chemist, seeing how readily cotton unites 


with acids, investigates its power of combining with 
alkahes. He discovers that it does so, but notices 
that a contraction ensues in its fibres. Looms are 
not now required to make coarse calico fine, for im- 
mersion in soda makes it take a closer texture. The 
alkaline calico washed in water loses its soda, but 
unites with water, and this in turn is displaced by 
colours when the calico is dyed, so that the calico 
assumes dyes of much greater intensity and brilhancy. 

These various discoveries of Schonbein, Mercer, 
and others, did not in any case arise fi'om a direct 
practical search, but as offshoots of abstract investi- 

Antioch, in the beginning of the fourth century, 
discovered the importance, as a matter of pohce, of 
lighting its streets. But the discovery lapsed, and 
it was only in the middle of the sixteenth century 
that Paris hghted up its streets by fires made of pitch 
and rosiu. Slowly did this matter of primary pohce 
creep on till the end of the last century, when it 
stai'ted forward mth extraordinary vigour. Chemists 
had long observed that coal on being distilled pro- 
duced a combustible gas, and the means of collecting 
and distributing various kinds of gas were among the 
common experiments of a lecture table. But it was 
not till 1792 that Murdoch employed coal gas to 
light up his offices at Eedruth. Now gas has entirely 
substituted oil in the fighting of streets, but simply as 
a question of cost, the coals from which it is produced 
being cheaper than the corn necessary to form tallow. 
It by no means follows that gas is always the most 


convenient form of using a combustible. " It would 
certainly," says Liebig, "be considered one of the 
greatest discoveries of the age if any one could suc- 
ceed in condensing coal gas into a white, dry, soHd, 
odourless substance, portable and capable of being 
placed upon a candlestick or burned in a lamp." A 
want is rarely clearly expressed by man that science 
does not administer to it ; and already is the desire 
of Liebig accomphshed. A mineral oil flowed out 
of coal in Derbyshire, and was obviously produced by 
a slow process of distillation from the coal. It con- 
tained sohd paraffine dissolved in a liquid oil. Mr. 
Young, of Manchester, in examining the mode of its 
formation, found that paraffine, a solid waxy substance 
hitherto never produced from coal, could in reality 
be readily formed in commercial quantities by a slow 
and regulai' distillation. This, in fact, is " condensed 
coal gas," or, rather, it might be considered as a 
sohd form of olefiant gas. It is, therefore, reaUy the 
want of Liebig supphed. In forming coke, this pro- 
duct, dissolved in an oil of a similar composition, may 
readily be obtained ; and useful products are made 
instead of those waste gases now thrown uselessly 
into the atmosphere. It might appear chimerical to 
you if I were to state many of the consequences 
which must follow if this discovery in its maturity 
be found as successful as it promises to be in its dawn ; 
but it is not difficult to see that a cheaper and less 
carbonized coke could be burned in our domestic fires ; 
and thus we might see a sim which now refuses to 
penetrate the sooty canopy of our cities. 


Hour after hour might be employed in recording 
the triumphs of chemistry in its investigations into 
the play of the organic elements. Looking back no 
farther than the last few years, you see how it has 
thrown open the most hidden processes of animal and 
vegetable life ; how it has taught us to increase and 
economize the food of man. It is even yet the prac- 
tice of those who have not followed its discoveries 
into the wondrous affinities of the few simple organic 
elements to depreciate the importance of following 
their infinite creations. If, however, there were no 
other result from doing so than the one great achieve- 
ment of having distinguished the ingredients in food 
used to bmld up the muscular frame, and those em- 
ployed ill the support of animal heat, the importance 
of that discovery would have repaid all the labom' of 
the past century. 

Almost all the staple manufactures of this country 
are founded on chemical principles , a knowledge of 
which is absolutely indispensable for their economical 
application. In a few educational estabhshments and 
in some of our universities the alphabet of chemical 
science is taught ; but it requires an institution such 
as this, devoted to a special object, to teach how to 
use that alphabet in reading manufactures. The ex- 
tension of scientific and technical education is a want 
of the age. The old and yet widely-existing schol- 
astic system of education, introduced by the revival 
of learning in the fom'teenth and fifteenth centuries, 
is iU adapted to the necessities of the times. Eras- 
mus would not now aid Cambridge in advancing the 


progress of England, nor would Vitelli make Oxford 
useful to the mass of its population. It would be 
of little use to the lagging progress of Italy even if 
Chrysoloras were again to teach Greek in its univer- 
sities. Euripides and Thucydides cannot make power 
looms and spinning-jennies ; for these Watts and 
Arkvvrights are required. A Poggio may discover 
copies of Lucretius and Quintihan, without thereby 
producing a result equal to that of the smallest in- 
ventions of a Stephenson or a Wheat stone. When 
wlU our schools learn that dead hterature cannot be 
the parent of Kving science or of active industry ? 
Do not suppose that in arguing against the limitation 
of education to ancient Hteratm'e in our classical 
schools that I either undervalue classics as a means 
of education, or that I depreciate the wisdom deriv- 
able from the study of the authors of antiquity. 
Human natm'e and human passions are the same now 
as they were in the days of Eome and of Greece, and 
the study of their glorious literature may be made of 
the highest educational value. It is because I desire 
to retain this in our system of education, that I pro- 
test against its exclusiveness, as being unfitted to the 
wants of the age. It is because, in this country of 
production, I cannot understand why our sons of in- 
dustry, destined to reap its harvests, should be placed 
in its fields of com, having only been taught how to 
cull the poppies which adorn them. " The great 
desideratum of the present age," says Liebig, "is 
practically manifested in the establishment of schools 
in which the natural sciences occupy the most pro- 


minent places in the course of instruction. From 
these schools a more vigorous generation wiU come 
forth, powerful in understanding, qualified to appre- 
ciate and to accomplish all that is truly great, and 
to bring forth fruits of universal usefulness. Through 
them the resources, the wealth, and the strength of 
empires will be incalculably increased." 

Institutions, such as this, are not substitutes for, 
but supplements to, the universities. It is the in- 
dustrial training which we profess, and everything 
else is made subsidiary to that object, l^ot that we 
do or should forget abstract science, as such, because 
the discoveries in abstract laws are of more real 
benefit to industry than their immediate apphca- 
tions. The technical man is, perhaps, of more use 
to himself and to his time and generation than he 
who discovers the abstract laws apphed by the former 
to the purposes of industry ; but it is the abstract 
philosopher who benefits all time, and confers uni- 
versal and eternal benefit to society. 

If I have convinced you that it is of infinite im- 
portance to a nation, not only to study science as 
constituting the foundation on which industry rests, 
but to promote the advancement of abstract science, 
the soul and life of industry, you will readily under- 
stand the importance of institutions the object of 
which is to infuse this life into special departments 
of technology. England has too long rested on the 
position which it has acquired as a manufacturing 
nation. This position was gained when local advan- 
tages gave an impulse to our practical national mind. 



But now that the progress of human events has eon- 
verted the competition of industry into a competition of 
intellect, it will no longer do to plume oui'selves 
in om' power of mere practical adaptations. It is 
miserable to see om- industrial population gloryuig 
in their ignorance of the principles on which their 
manufactures depend, and vaunting their empiricism, 
or, as they term it, their "practice." Let us waken 
from this delusion, unless we prefer to — 

•' Sit like spent and patient fools, 
StUl puffing in the dark at one poor coal, 
Held on by hope till the last spark is out" 

If England keep pace with other comitries as a 
manufacturing nation, it must be by her sons of in- 
dustiy becoming humble disciples of science. At 
present her rehance in the " practical " or " common 
sense " of her population is the simken rock directly 
in the com-se both of her agriculture and manufac- 
tures. On this subject Ai'chbishop Whately has 
some excellent remai'ks. " By common, sense," says 
he, " is meant, I apprehend (when the term is used 
with any distinct meaning), an exercise of judgment, 
unaided by any art or system of rules ; such an ex- 
ercise as we must necessai'ily employ in numberless 
cases of daily occiuTence, in which, having no estab- 
lished principles to guide us, no line of procedm-e, as 
it were, distinctly chalked out, we must needs act on 
the best extemporaneous conjectures we can form. 
He who is emmently successful in doing this is said 
to possess a superior degree of common sense. But 
that common sense is only oiu* second best guide,-— 


that the rules of art, if judiciously framed, are always 
desirable when they can be had, — ^is an assertion for 
which I may appeal to the testimony of mankind in 
general, which is so much the more valuable, inasmuch 
as it may be accounted the testimony of adversaries ; 
for the generality have a strong predilection in favour 
of common sense, except in those points in which they 
respectively possess the knowledge of a system of 
rules, but in these points they deride any one who 
trusts to unaided common sense. A sailor, e. g., will 
perhaps despise the pretensions of medical men, and 
prefer treating a disease by common sense ; but he 
would ridicule the proposal of navigating a ship by 
common sense, without regard to the maxims of 
nautical art. A physician again will perhaps con- 
temn systems of political economy, of logic, or meta- 
physics, and insist on the superior wisdom of trusting 
to common sense on such matters; but he would 
never approve of trusting to common sense in the 
treatment of diseases, Neither, again, would the 
architect recommend a reliance on common sense 
alone in building, nor the musician in music, to the 
neglect of those systems of rules, which, in their 
respective arts, have been deduced from scientific 
reasoning, aided by experience; and the induction 
might be extended to every department of practice. 
Since, therefore, each gives the preference to unas- 
sisted common sense only in those cases where he 
himself has nothing else to trust to, and invariably 
resorts to the rules of art wherever he possesses the 
knowledge of them, it is plain that mankind bear 


their testimony, though unconsciously, and often 
unwillingly, to the preference of systematic knowledge 
to conjectural judgments." Practice and science 
must now join together in close alliance, or the 
former will soon emigrate to other lands. The time 
is past when practice can go on in the blind and 
vain confidence of a shallow empiricism, severed 
from science, hke a tree from its roots. The rudest 
sailor may steer his ship in the direction of a land- 
mark, but without compass and sextant he dare not 
traverse the expanse of ocean. Ignorance may walk 
in the path dimly lighted by advancing knowledge, 
but she stands in dismay when science passes her ; 
and she is unable to follow, like the foolish virgin 
having no oil in her lamp. Depend upon it, an em- 
pirical knowledge of practice is not the way now to 
succeed in the struggle of individuals, or in the 
struggle of nations. Intellect is on the stretch to 
get forward, and that nation which holds not by it 
will soon be left behind. For a long time, practice, 
standing still in the pride of empiricism, and in the 
ungrateful forgetfulness of what science has done in 
its development, reared upon its portal the old and 
vulgar adage, that " an ounce of practice is worth a 
ton of theory." This wretched inscription acted like 
a Grorgon's head, and turned to stone the aspirations 
of science. Believe it not ! for a grain of theory, if 
that be an expression for science, will, when planted, 
like the mustard seed of Scripture, grow and wax 
into the gi-eatest of trees. The pressure and diffi- 
culties of the age, and the rapid advancement of 


intellect in continental nations, have been the Per- 
seus to cut off this Medusa's head from the industry 
of England, and to fix it on the shield of Minerva, 
who turns to stone those that beheve that science 
should be ignored by practice ; but, reversing her 
shield, wisely conducts such as are willing to go far- 
ther under her guidance. It is now rare to find men 
who openly avow, although they actually entertain, 
a behef in a necessary antagonism between theory 
and practice. Theory is in fact the rule, and practice 
its example. Theory is but the attempt to furnish 
an intelligent explanation of what is empirically as- 
certained to be true, and is always useful,, even when 
wrong. Theories are the leaves of the tree of science, 
drawing nutriment to the parent stem while they 
last, and by their fall and decay affording the mate- 
rials for the new leaves which are to succeed. 

I have now said enough to show you that it is 
indispensable for this country to have a scientific 
education in connection with manufactures, if we 
wish to outstrip the intellectual competition which 
now, happily for the world, prevails in aU departments 
of industry. As surely as darkness follows the set- 
ting of the sun, so surely wiU England recede as a 
manufacturing nation, unless her industrial popula- 
tion become much more conversant with science than 
they now are. 







Delivered in the Queen Street Hall. Jan. 18, 1854. 

GrENTLEMEif, — I may well feel overcome by the 
kindness with which you receive me, for I cannot 
disentangle my earliest recollections from my sense of 
intellectual obligations to the genius of Scotland. 
The first poets who charmed me from play in the 
half-holidays of school, were Campbell and Scott — 
the first historians who clothed, for me, with hfe, the 
shadows of the past, were Robertson and Hume — 
the first philosopher who, by the grace of his attrac- 
tive style, lured me on to the analysis of the human 
.mind, was Dtigald Stewart — and the first novel that 
I bought with my own money, and hid under my 
pillow, was the Eoderick Random of Smollett.. So, 
when later, in a long vacation fi.'om my studies at 
Cambridge, I learned the love for active adventui-e, 
and contracted the habit of self-reHance by soHtary 


excursions on foot, my staff in my hand and my knap- 
sack on my shoulders, it was towards Scotland that 
I instinctively bent my way, as if to the nursery- 
ground from which had been wafted to my mind the 
first germs of those fertile and fair ideas which, after 
they have come to flower upon their native soil, return 
to seed, and are carried by the winds we know not 
whither, calling up endless diversities of the same 
plant, according to the chmate and the grornid to 
which they are borne by chance. 

Gentlemen, this day I visited, with Professor 
Aytoun, the spot on which, a mere lad, obscure and 
alone, I remember to have stood one starhght night 
in the streets of Edinburgh, gazing across what was 
then a deep ravine, upon the pictm'esque outlines of 
the Old Town, all the associations which make Scot- 
land so dear to romance, and so sacred to learning, 
rushing over me in tumultuous pleasure ; her stormy 
history, her enchanting legends — wild tales of witch- 
craft and fairyland — of headlong chivalry and tragic 
love — all contrasting, yet aU uniting, with the renown 
of schools famous for patient erudition and tranquil 
science, — I remember how I then wished that I 
could have found some tie in parentage or blood to 
connect me with the great people in whose capital I 
stood a stranger. That tie which birth denied to me, 
my humble labours, and your generous kindness, have 
at last bestowed ; and the stranger in your streets 
stands to-day in this crowded haU, proud to identify 
his own career with the hopes and aspirations of the 
youth of Scotland. 


Gentlemen, when I turn to what the analogous 
custom of other universities renders my duty upon 
this occasion, and offer some suggestions that may 
serve as hmts in your various studies, I feel Hterally 
overshadowed by the awe of the great names, all your 
own, which rise high around me in every department 
of human progress. It is not only the illustrious 
dead before whom I have to bow — your wonted fires 
do not Hve only in their ashes. The men of to-day 
are worthy the men of yesterday. A thousand rays 
of intellectual hght are gathered and fused together 
in the varied leai*ning of your distinguished Principal. 
The chivalry of your glorious annals finds its new 
Tjrrtseus in the vigorous and rushing verse of Pro- 
fessor Aytoun. Your medical schools, in all their 
branches — pathology, medical jurisprudence, surgery, 
anatomy, chemistry — advance more and more to fresh 
honours under the presiding names of Simpson — 
AHson — Christison — Goodsir — TraiU — Syme and 
Gregory. The general cause of education itself is 
identified with the wide repute of Professor Pillans. 
Nature has added the name of Forbes to the list of 
those who have not only examined her laws but 
discovered her secrets — while the comprehensive 
science of Sir WilHam Hamilton stiU corrects and 
extends the sublime chart that defines the immaterial 
universe of ideas. And how can I forget the name 
of one man, whose character and works must have 
produced the most healthful influence over the youth 
of Scotland — combining, as they do, in the rarest 
union, all that is tender and graceful with aU that is 


hardy and masculine— the exquisite poet, the vigo- 
rous critic, the eloquent discourser, the joyous com- 
rade — the minstrel of the Isle of Palms — the Christo- 
pher North of Maga ? How I wish that the plaudits 
with which you receive this inadequate reference to 
one so loved and honoured might be carried to his 
ears, and assure him that, like those statues of the 
great Roman fathers in the weU-known passage of 
Tacitus — if he be absent from the procession he is 
still more I'emembered by the assembly. And since 
I see around me many who, though not connected 
with your college, are yet interested in the learned 
fame of your capital, permit me on this neutral 
ground to suspend aU differences of party, and do 
homage to the great orator and author, whose lumi- 
nous genius, whose scholastic attainments, whose 
independence of spiiit, whose integrity of life, so 
worthily represent not only the capital, but the 
character of the people who claim their countryman 
by descent in Macaulay. When I think of those 
names, and of many more which I might cite, if time 
would allow me to make the catalogue of your hving 
title-deeds to fame, I might well shrink from the 
task before me ; but as every man assists to a general 
illumination by placing a single hght at his own 
window, so, perhaps, my individual experience may 
contribute its humble ray to the atmosphere which 
genius and learning have kindled into famihar splen- 

Gentlemen, I shall first offer some remai'ks upon 
those fundamental requisites which, no matter what 


be our peculiar studies, are essential to excellence in 
all of them. Nature indicates to the infant the two 
main elements of wisdom — nature herself teaches the 
infant to observe and to inquire. You will have 
noticed how every new object catches the eye of a 
young child — how mtuitively he begins to question 
you upon all that he surveys — what it is ? what it is 
for ? how it came there ? how it is made ? who made 
it ? Gradually, as he becomes older, his observation 
is less vigilant, his cmiosity less eager. In fact, both 
faculties are often troublesome and puzzling to those 
about him. He is told to attend to his lessons, and 
not ask questions to which he cannot jei understand 
the rephes. Thus his restless vivacity is drilled into 
mechanical forms, so that often when we leave school 
we observe less and inquire less than when we stood 
at the knees of our mother in the nursery. But our 
first object on entering upon youth, and surveying 
the great world that spreads before us, should be to 
regain the earhest attributes of the child. What 
were the instincts of the infant are the primary duties 
of the student. His ideas become rich and various 
in proportion as he observes — accurate and practical 
in proportion as he inquires. The old story of New- 
ton observing the fall of the apple, and so arriving, 
by inquiry, at the laws of gravity, will occur to you 
all. But this is the ordinary process in every depart- 
ment of intelhgence. A man observes more atten- 
tively than others had done something in itself very 
simple. He reflects, tests his observation by inquiry, 
and becomes the discoverer, the inventor ; enriches a 


science, improves a manufacture, adds a new beauty 
to the arts, or, if engaged in professional active life, 
detects, as a physician, the secret cause of disease — 
extracts truth, as a lawyer, from contradictory 
evidence — or grapples, as a statesman, with the com- 
plicated principles by which nations flourish or decay. 
In short, take with you into all your studies this 
leading proposition, that, whither in active hfe or in 
letters and research, a man wiH always be eminent 
according to the vigilance with which he observes, 
and the acuteness with which he inquires. But this 
is not enough — something more is wanted— it is that 
resolute effort of the wiU which we call perseverance. 
I am no behever in genius without labour ; but I do 
believe that labour, judiciously and continuously 
applied, becomes genius in itself. Success in removing 
obstacles as in conquering armies, depends on this law 
of mechanics — the greatest amount of force at your 
command concentrated on a given point. If your 
constitutional force be less than another man's, you 
equal him if you continue it longer and concentrate 
it more. The old saying of the Spartan parent to 
the son who complained that his sword was too short, 
is appHcable to everything in life — " If your weapon 
is too short, add a step to it." Dr. Arnold, the famous 
Rugby schoolmaster, said, the difference between one 
boy and another was not so much in talent as in 
energy. It is with boys as with men ; and perseve- 
rance is energy made habitual. But I forget that I 
am talking to Scotchmen ; no need to preach energy 
and perseverance to them. Those are their national 


characteristics. Is there a soil upon earth from 
which the Scotchman cannot ring some harvest for 
fortune ; or one field of honourable contest on which 
he has not left some trophy of renown ? 

We must now talk a httle upon books. Grentle- 
men, the objects and utihties of reading are so various, 
that to suggest any formal joules whereby to dictate 
its subjects and confine its scope, would be to re- 
semble the man in a Greek anecdote, who, in order to 
improve his honey, cut off the wings of his bees, and 
placed before them the flowers his own sense found 
the sweetest. No doubt, the flowers were the best 
he could find on Hymettus ; but, somehow or other, 
when the bees had lost their wings, they made no 
honey at all. Still, while the ordinary inducement 
to reading is towards general dehght and general 
instruction, it is well in youth to acquire the habit 
of reading with conscientious toil for a special pur- 
pose. Whatever costs us labour, braces all the sinews 
of the mind in the effort ; and whatever we study 
with a definite object, fixes a much more tenacious 
hold on the memory than do the lessons of mere 
desultory reading. If, for instance, you read the 
history of the latter half of the last century, simply 
because some works on the subject are thrown in your 
way; unless your memory be unusually good, you 
will retain but a vague recollection, that rather serves 
to diminish ignorance than bestow knowledge. But 
suppose, in a debating society, that the subject of 
debate be the character of Charles Fox, or the admin- 
istration of Mr. Pitt, and some j^oung man gets up 


the facts of the time for the special pui'pose of making 
an ample and elaborate speech on the principles and 
career of either of those statesmen, the definite pur- 
pose for which he reads, and the animated object to 
which it is to be apphed, will, in all probabilitY, fix 
what he reads indelibly in his mind ; and to the dry 
materials of knowledge will be added the virida vis of 
argument and reasoning. You see now, then, how 
wisely the fii'st founders of learning estabhshed insti- 
tutions for youth on the collegiate principle ; fixing 
the vague desire for knowledge into distinct bounds, 
by lectures on chosen subjects, and placing before the 
ambition of the student the practical object of 
honourable distinction — a distinction, indeed, that 
connects itself with our gentlest affections, and om* 
most lasting interests : for honours gained in youth 
pay back to our parents, while they are yet living, 
some part of what we owe to their anxiety and 
care. And whatever renown a University can confer, 
abridges the road to subsequent success, interests our 
contemporaries in our career, and raises up a crowd 
eager to cheer on our first maturer efforts to make a 
name. The friendships we form at College die away 
as life divides us, but the honours we gain there 
remain and constitute a portion of oiirselves. Who, 
for instance, can separate the fame of a Brougham or 
a Mackintosh from the reputation they established at 
the University at Edinbm-gh ? The vai-iety of know- 
ledge embraced in the four divisions, which are here 
called faculties, allows to every one an ample choice, 
according to the bias of each several mind, or the 


profession for which the student is destined. But 
there is one twofold branch of humane letters in which 
the Universities of Scotland are so renowned that I 
must refer to it specially, though the reference must 
be brief — I mean moral and metaphysical philosophy, 
which, in Edinburgh especially, has been allied to the 
Graces by the silver style of Dugald Stewart, and 
taken the lovehness which Plato ascribes to virtue 
from the beautiful intellect of Brown. Now, it would 
be idle to ask the general student to make himself a 
profound metaphysician. You might as well ask him 
to make himself a great poet. Both the one and the 
other are bom for their calling ; not made by our 
advice, but their own uTcsistible impulse. But a 
liberal view of the principal theories as to the forma- 
tion of the human mind, and the latent motives of 
human conduct, is of essential service to all about to 
enter upon busy practical hfe. Such studies quicken 
our perceptions of error and virtue, enlarge our general 
knowledge of mankind, and enable our later experience 
to apply with order and method the facts it accumu- 
lates. I need not remind those who boast the great 
name of Chalmers, or who heard the lectures of your 
Principal two years ago, that Moral Philosophy is the 
handmaid of Divinity. She is also the sister of Juris- 
prudence, and the presiding genius of that art in 
which you are so famous ; and which, in order to 
heal the body, must often prescribe alteratives to the 
mind — more especially in these days, when half our 
diseases come from the neglect of the body in the 
overwork of the brain. In this railway age the wear 


and tear of labour and intellect go on without pause 
or self-pity. We live longer than our forefathers, 
but we suffer more from a thousand artificial anxieties 
and cares. They fatigued only the muscles ; we 
exhaust the finer strength of the nerves ; and, when 
we send impatiently to the doctor, it is ten to one 
but what he finds the acute complaint, which is all 
that we perceive, connected with some chronic mental 
irritation, or some unwholesome inveteracy of habit. 
Here, then, the physician, accustomed to consider 
how mind acts upon body, will exercise with discre- 
tion the skill that moral philosophy'- has taught him. 
Every one knows the difference between two medical 
attendants, perhaps equally learned in pharmacy and 
the routine of the schools ; the one writes in haste 
the prescription we may as well " throw to the dogs ; " 
the other, by his soothing admonitions, his agreeable 
converse, cheers up the gloomy spirits, regulates the 
defective habits, and often, unconsciously to ourselves, 
" ministers to the mind diseased, and plucks from the 
memory a rooted sorrow." And the difference 
between them is, that one has studied our moral 
anatomy, and the other has only looked on us as 
mere machines of matter, to be inspected by a peep 
at the tongue, and regulated by a touch of the pulse. 
And in order to prove my sense of the connection 
between moral and metaphysical philosophy and 
practical pathology, and to pay a joint compliment 
to the two sciences for which your college is so pre- 
eminent, I here, as a personal favour to myself, crave 
permission of the heads and authorities of the Uni- 


versity to offer the prize of a gold medal, for the 
current year, for the best essay by any student on 
some special subject implying the connection I speak 
of, which may be selected in concert with the various 
Professors of your medical schools, and the Professors 
of Metaphysics and Moral Philosophy. 

Gentlemen — allow me to preface the topic to which 
I now turn by congratulating you on the acquisition 
your scholarship has recently made in the accom- 
pHshed translator of ^schylus, Professor Blackie — 
who appears to have thrown so much light on the 
ancient language of the Greeks by shovdng its sub- 
stantial identity with the modern. I now proceed 
to impress on you the importance of Classical studies. 
I shall endeavour to avoid the set phrases of decla- 
matory panegyric which the subject too commonly 
provokes. But if those studies appear to you cold 
and tedious, the fault is in the languor with which 
they are approached. Do you think that the statue 
of ancient art is but a lifeless marble ? Animate it 
with your own young breath, and instantly it lives 
and glows. Greek Hterature, if it served jou with 
nothing else, should excite your cmiosity as the 
picture of a wondrous state of civihzation which, in 
its peculiar phases, the world can never see again, and 
yet from which every succeeding state of civilization 
has borrowed its hvehest touches. If you take it 
first as a mere record of events — if you examine only 
the contest between the Spartans and the Athenians 
— the one as the representative of duration and order, 
the other of change and progress, both pushed to the 


extreme — ^there instantly rise before you, in the 
noblest forms — through the grandest illustrations of 
history — through the collision of characters at once 
human and heroic — there instantly, I say, rise before 
you lessons which may instruct every age, and which 
may especially guide the present. For so closely does 
Grecian history bear on the more prominent disputes 
in our own day, that it is not only full of wise saws, 
but still more of modern instances. I pass by this 
view of the political value of Grecian hterature, on 
which I could not well enlarge without, perhaps, 
provoking party differences, to offer some remarks, 
purely critical, and for which I bespeak your indul- 
gence if I draw too largely on your time. Every 
Professor who encourages the young to the study of 
the Classics wiQ tell them how these ancient master- 
pieces have served modem Europe with models to 
guide the taste and excite the emulation. But here 
let us distinguish what we should mean when we 
speak of them as models — we mean no check to origi- 
nality — no cold and sterile imitation, more especially 
of form and diction. The pith and substance of a 
good Enghsh style — be it simple and severe, be it 
copious and adorned — must still be found in the 
nervous strength of om* native tongue. We need not 
borrow from Greek or Roman the art that renders a 
noble thought transparent to the humblest under- 
standing, or charms the fastidious eai' with the varying 
music of elaborate cadence. The classic authors are 
models in a more comprehensive sense. They teach 
us less how to handle words than how to view things ; 


— and first, let us recognize the main chai'acteristic 
of the Hteratm-e of Greece. The genius of G-reek 
letters is essentiall}'- social and humane. Far from 
presenting us \vith a frigid and austere ideal, it deals 
with the most vivid passions, the largest interests 
common to the mass of mankind. In this sense of 
the word it is practical — that is, it connects itself with 
the natural feehngs, the practical life of man under 
aU forms of civilization. That is the reason why it is 
so dm'able — it fastens hold of sympath}'- and interest 
in every nation and every age. Thus Homer is im- 
measm'ably the most popular poet the world ever 
knew. The Iliad is constructed from materials with 
which the natural human heart has the most affinity. 
Om* social instincts interest us on both sides, whether 
in the war of the Greeks avenging the desecration of 
the marriage hearth, or the doom of the Trojans, 
wliich takes aU its pathos from the moment we see 
Hector parting from Andromache, and unbinding his 
helmet that it may not terrify his child. Homer 
makes no attempt at abstract subtle feelings with 
which few can sympathize. He takes terror and pity 
from the most popular springs of emotion — valour, 
love, patriotism, domestic affections — the stmggle of 
Man with fate — the contrast, as in AchiUes, between 
glorious youth and early death — between headlong 
daidng and passionate sorrow ; the contrast, as in 
Priam, between all that gives reverence to the king 
and all that moves compassion for the man. Homer 
knows no conventional dignity ; his heroes weep. — 
his godesses scold — Mai's roars with pain when he is 


wounded — Hector himself knows fear, and we do not 
respect him the less, though we love him more, when 
his heart sinks and his feet fly before Achilles. So 
essentially human is Homer, that it is said that he 
first created the Grreek gods — that is, he clothed what 
before were vague phantoms with attributes famihar 
to humanity, and gave them the power of divinities, 
with the forms and the hearts of men. 

Civilization advances, but the Greek hterature still 
preserves this special character of humanity, and each 
succeeding writer still incorporates his genius with 
the actual existence and warm emotions of the crowd, 
^schylus strides forth from the field of Marathon, 
to give voice to the grand practical ideas that 
influenced his land and times. He represents the 
apotheosis of freedom, and the dawn of philosophv 
through the mists of fable. Thus, in the victory 
hymn of " the Persse, " he chaunts the defeat of 
Xerxes ; thus, in the " Seven before Thebes," he 
addi-esses an audience still hot from the memories of 
war, in words that rekindle its passions and re-echo 
its clang ; thus, again, in the wondrous myth of the 
" Prometheus Bound," he piles up the fragments of 
primeval legend with a Titan's hand, storming the 
very throne of Zeus with assertions of the liberty of 
intellectual will, as opposed to the authority of force. 
In ^schylus there is always the very form and pres- 
sure of an age characterized by fierce emotions, and 
the tumult of new ideas struggling for definite expres- 
sion. Sophocles no less commands an everlasting 
audience by genial sympathy with the minds that 


thought, and the hearts that beat, in his own day. 
The stormy revolution of thought that succeeded the 
Persian wai' had given way to a milder, but not less 
manly, period of serene intelligence. The time had 
come in which what we call " The Beautiful " deve- 
loped its ripe proportions. A sentiment of order, of 
submission to the gods — a desire to embellish the 
social existence secured by victorious war — pervaded 
the manners, and inspired the gentle emulation. All 
this is reflected in the calm splendour of Sophocles. 
It seems a type of the difference between the two 
that -^schylus — a bearded man — had fought at 
Marathon, and Sophocles — in the bloom of youth — 
had tuned his harp to the pagans that circled round 
the trophies of Salamis. The Prometheus of 
TEschylus is a vindication of human wisdom, made 
with the sublime arrogance of a Titan's pride. The 
(Edipus of Sophocles teaches its nothingness to 
Wisdom, and inflicts its blind punishment upon 
Pride. But observe how both these great poets 
inculcate the sentiment of Mercy as an element of 
tragic grandeur, and how they both seek to connect 
that attribute of humanity with the fame of their 
native land. Thus it is to Athens that the Orestes 
of ^schylus comes to expiate his parricide — it is the 
tutelary goddess of the Athenians that pleads in his 
cause, and reconciles the Fm'ies to the release of their 
hunted victim. But still more impressively does 
Sophocles inculcate and adorn this lesson of beautiful 
humanity. It is not only amidst the very grove of 
the Fm'ies that (Edipus finds the peaceful goal of his 


wanderings — but round that grove itself the poet has 
lavished aU the loveliest images of his fancy. There, 
in the awful ground of the ghastly sisters, the Night- 
ingales sing under the ivy — there blooms the jSTar- 
cissus — there smiles the ohve- — there spring the 
fountains that feed Cephisus. Thus terror itself he 
surrounds with beauty, and the nameless grave of the 
outlawed (Edipus becomes the guardian of the benig- 
nant state, which gave the last refuge to his woes. 

A few years more, and a new phase of civihzation 
develops itself in Athens. To that sentiment for the 
beautiful which in itself discovers the good, succeeds 
the desire to moralize and speculate. The influence 
of women on social life is more admitted — statesmen 
and sages gather round Aspasia — love occupies a 
larger space in the thoughts of men, and pity is 
derived from gentler, perhaps from more effeminate, 
sources. This change Euripides — ^no less practical 
than his predecessors in representing the popular 
temper of his age — this change, I say, Euripides 
comes to depict in sententious aphorisms, in scholastic 
casuistry, accompanied, however, with the tenderest 
pathos, and enhsting that interest for which he is 
ridiculed by Aristophanes — the interest derived from 
conjugal relations and household life — the domestic 
interest, — it is this which has made him of all the 
G-reek di-amatists the most du-ectly influential in the 
modern stage. And it is Euripides who has sug- 
gested to the classic tragedy of Italy and France 
two-thirds of whatever it possesses of genuine tender- 
ness and passion. In a word, the Greek drama is not 


that marble perfection of artistic symmetry which it 
has too often been represented to be, but a flesh and 
blood creation, identifying itself with the emotions 
most prevalent in the multitudes it addressed, and 
artificial rather by conventions derived from its 
rehgious origin than by any very deep study of other 
principles of art than those which sympathy with 
human nature teaches instinctively to the poet. The 
rules prescribed to the Greek dramatist, such as the 
unities, were indeed few, and elementary, belonging 
rather to the commencement of art than to its full 
development. There are few critics nowadays, for 
instance, who will not recognize a higher degree of 
art in Shakspeare, when he transports his willing 
audience over space and time, and concentrates in 
Macbeth the whole career of guilty ambition, from 
its first dire temptation to its troubled rise and' its 
bloody doom, than there can be in any formal rule 
which would have sacrificed for dry recital the vivacity 
of action, and crowded into a day what Shakspeare 
expands throughout a life. 

In fine, then, these Greek poets became our models 
— not as authorities for pedantic laws, not to chill 
our invention by unsubstantial ideals or attempts to 
restore to life the mere mummies of antiquity — but 
rather, on the contrarj^ to instruct us that the writer 
who most faithfully represents the highest and fairest 
attributes of his own age has the best chance of an 
audience in posterity ; and that whatever care we 
take as to the grace or sublimity of diction, still the 
diction itself can only be the instrument by which 


the true poet woiild refine or exalt what ? — why, the 
feehngs most common to the greatest number of 
mankind. We have heard too much about the cahn 
and repose of classic art. It is the distance from 
which we take our survey that does not allow us to 
distinguish its force and its passion. Thus the 
rivulet, when near, seems more disturbed than the 
ocean beheld afar off. At the distance of two thou- 
sand years, if we do not see all the play of the waves, 
it is because we do not stand on the beach. The 
same practical identification with the intellectual at- 
tributes of their age which distinguished the poetry, 
no less animates the prose of the ancient Grreeks. 
The narratives of Herodotus, so simple yet so glowing, 
were read to immense multitudes — now exciting their 
wonder by tale and legend — now gratifying their 
curiosity by accounts of barbarian customs — now 
inflaming their patriotism by minute details of the 
Persian myriads that exhausted rivers on their march, 
and graphic anecdotes of the Grecian men, whom the 
Medes at Marathon saw rushing into the midst of 
their spears, or whom the scout of Xerxes found 
dressing their hair for the festival of battle in the 
glorious pass of Thermopylae. No less does the 
graver mind of Thucydides represent the intense 
interest with which the Grecian intellect was accus- 
tomed to view the action and strife, the sorrow and 
triumph, of the human beings, from whom it never 
stood supercihously aloof. Though the father of 
philosophical history, Thucydides knows nothing of 
that cynical irony which is common to the modern 


spirit of historical philosophy in its cold survey of the 
follies and errors of mankind. He never neglects to 
place full before you whatever ennobles our species, 
whether it be the lofty sentiment of Pericles or the 
hardy valour of Brasidas. It is his candid sympathy 
with whatever in itself is good and great which 
vivifies his sombre chronicle, and renders him at once 
earnest yet impartial. Each httle bay or creek, each 
defile or pass, where gallant deeds have been done, 
he describes with the conviction that the deeds have 
haUowed the place to all posterity, and have become 
a part of that >cTVificc ig dsi which he proposed to be- 
queath. This is the spirit which returns to Hfe in 
your own day, and in your own historians, which 
gives a classic charm to the mihtary details of Napier, 
and lights with a patriot's fire the large intelligence 
and profound research that immortalize the page of 

Pass from history to oratory. All men in modern 
times, famous for their eloquence, have recognized 
Demosthenes as their model. Many speakers in our 
own country have literally translated passages from 
his orations, and produced electrical efiects upon sober 
EngHsh senators by thoughts first uttered to passion- 
ate Athenian crowds. Why is this ? Not from the 
style — the style vanishes in translation — it is because 
thoughts the noblest appeal to emotions the most 
masculine and popular. You see in Demosthenes the 
man accustomed to deal with the practical business 
of men — to generahze details, to render complicated 
affairs clear to the ordinary understanding — and, at 


the same time, to connect the material interests of 
life with the sentiments that warm the breast and 
exalt the soul. It is the brain of an accomphshed 
statesman in unison with a generous heart, thoroughly 
in earnest, beating loud and high — ^with the passion- 
ate desire to convince breathless thousands how to 
balSle a danger, and to save their country, 

A httle time longer, and Athens is free no more. 
The u'on force of Macedon has banished hberty from 
the silenced Agora. But hberty had already secured 
to herself a gentle refuge in the groves of the Academy 
— there, still to the last, the Grecian intellect main- 
tains the same social, humanizing, practical aspect. 
The immense mind of Aristotle gathers together, as 
in a treasure-house for future ages, all that was valu- 
able in the knowledge that informs us of the earth 
on which we dwell — the pohtical constitutions of 
States, and then- results on the character of nations, 
the science of ethics, the analysis of ideas, natural 
history, physical science, critical investigation, omne 
immensum 2^eragravit; and all that he collects from 
wisdom he apphes to the earthly uses of man. Yet 
it is not by the tutor of Alexander, but by the pupil 
of Socrates, that our vast debt to the Grecian mind 
is completed. When we remount from Aristotle to 
his great master, Plato — it is as if we looked from 
nature up to nature's god. There, amidst the decline 
of freedom, the corruption of manners — just before 
the date when, with the fall of Athens, the beautiful 
ideal of sensuous life faded mournfully away — there, 
on that verge of time stands the consoling Plato, 


preparing philosopliy to receive the Christian dispen- 
sation, by opemng the gates of the Infinite, and pro- 
claiming the immortality of the soul. Thus the 
Grecian genius, ever kindly and benignant, first 
appears to awaken man from the sloth of the senses, 
to enlarge the boundaries of self, to connect the desire 
of glory with the sanctity of household ties, to raise 
up in luminous contrast with the inert despotism of 
the old Eastern world — the energies of freemen, the 
duties of citizens; and, finally, accompHshing its 
mission as the visible Iris to States and heroes, melts 
into the rainbow, announcing a more sacred covenant, 
and spans the streams of the Heathen Orcus with an 
arch lost in the Christian's Heaven. 

I have so exhausted your patience in what I have 
thus said of the Grecian Hterature, that I must limit 
closely my remarks upon the Eoman. And here, 
indeed, the subject does not require the same space. 
In the Greek hterature all is fresh and original ; its 
very art is but the happiest selection from natural 
objects, knit together with the zone of the careless 
Graces. But the Latin hterature is borrowed and 
adopted ; and, like all imitations, we perceive at once 
that it is artificial — but in this imitation it has such 
exquisite taste, in this artificiahty there is so much 
refinement of pohsh, so much statehness of pomp — 
that it assumes an originality of its own. It has not 
found its jewels in native mines, but it takes them 
with a conqueror's hand, and weaves them into regal 
diadems. Dignity and pohsh are the especial attri- 
butes of Latin hterature in its happiest age; it 


betrays the habitual influence of an aristocracy, 
wealthy, magnificent, and learned. To borrow a 
phrase from Persius — its words sweep along as if 
clothed with the toga. Whether we take the sono- 
rous lines of Yirgil or the swelling periods of Cicero, 
the easier dignity of Sallust, or the patrician simpH- 
city of Ceesar, we are sensible that we are with a race 
accustomed to a measured decorum, a majestic self- 
control, unfamiliar to the more lively impulse of small 
Greek communities. There is a greater demarcation 
between the intellect of the writer and the homely 
sense of the multitude. The Latin writers seek to 
hnk themselves to posterity rather through a succes- 
sion of select and well-bred admu'ers than by cordial 
identification with the passions and interests of the 
profane vulgai'. Even Horace himself, so briUiant 
and easy, and so conscious of his monumentum cere 
perennius, affects disdain of popular applause, and 
informs us, with a kind of pride, that his satires had 
no vogue in the haunts of the common people. 
Every bold schoolboy takes at once to Homer, but it 
is only the fine taste of the scholar that thoroughly 
appreciates Virgil ; and only the experienced man of 
the world who discovers all the dehcate wit, aU the 
exquisite urbanity of sentiment, that win our affection 
to Horace in proportion as we advance in life. In 
short, the Grreek writers warm and elevate our 
emotions as men — the Latiu writers temper emotions 
to the stately reserve of high-bdrn gentlemen. The 
Greeks fire us more to the inspirations of poetry, or 
(as in Plato and parts of Demosthenes) to that sub- 


limer prose to which poetry is akin ; but the Latin 
writers are, perhaps, on the whole, though I say it 
with hesitation, safer models for that accui*ate con- 
struction and decorous elegance by which classical 
prose attains critical perfection. Nor is this elegance 
effeminate, but, on the contraiy, nervous and robust, 
though, like the statue of Apollo, the strength of 
the muscle is concealed by the undulation of the 
curv^es. But there is this, as a general result from 
the study of ancient letters, whether Greek or Roman, 
— both are the literature of grand races, of free men 
and brave hearts ; both abound in generous thoughts 
and high examples ; both, whatever their occasional 
license, inculcate, upon the whole, the habitual 
practice of manly vu'tues ; both glow with the love 
of country ; both are animated by the desire of fame 
and honour. Therefore, whatever be our future pro- 
fession and pursuit, however they may take us from 
the scholastic closet, and forbid any frequent return 
to the classic studies of our youth, still he whose 
early steps have been led into that land of demi-gods 
and heroes will find that its very air has enriched 
through hfe the blood of his thoughts, that he quits 
the soil with a front which the Greek has directed 
towards the stars, and a step which imperial Rome 
has disciplined to the march that carried her eagles 
round the world. 

Not in vain do these lessons appeal to the j'-outh 
of Scotland. From this capital, still as from the 
elder Athens, stream the hghts of philosophy and 
learning. But yom* countrymen are not less renowned 


for the qualities of action than for those of thought. 
And you whom I address wiU carry with you, in your 
several paths to fortune, your national attributes of 
reflective judgment and dauntless courage. I see 
an eventful and stirring age expand before the rising 
generation. In that grand contest between new 
ideas and ancient forms, which may be still more 
keenly urged before this century expires, whatever 
your differences of political opinion, I adjure you to 
hold fast to the vital principle of civilization. What 
is that principle ? It is the union of liberty with 
order. The art to preserve this imion has often 
baffled the wisest statesmen in stormy times ; but 
the task becomes easy at once, if the people whom 
they seek to guide wiH but carry into pubhc affairs 
the same prudent consideration which commands 
prosperity in private business. Tou have already 
derived from yom* ancestors an immense capital of 
pohtical freedom ; increase it if you wiU — but by 
sohd investments, not by hazardous speculations. 
You will hear much of the necessity of progress, and 
truly : for where progress ends decHne invariably 
begins ; but remember that the healthful progress of 
society is like the natural life of man — ^it consists in 
the gradual and harmonious development of aU its 
constitutional powers, all its component parts, and 
you introduce weakness and disease into the whole 
system, whither you attempt to stiut or to force the 
growth. The old homely rule you prescribe to the 
individual is apphcable to a State — " Keep the Hmbs 
warm by exercise, and keep the head cool by temper- 


ance." But new ideas do not invade only our poli- 
tical systems ; you will find them wherever you turn. 
Philosophy has altered the directions it favoured in 
the last century — it enters less into metaphysical 
inquiiy ; it questions less the relationships between 
man and his Maker ; it assumes its practical character 
as the investigator of external nature, and seeks to 
adapt agencies before partially concealed to the 
positive uses of man. Here I leave you to your own 
bold researches ; you cannot be much misled, if you 
remember the maxim, to observe with vigilance, and 
inquire with conscientious care. Nor is it necessary 
that I should admonish the sons of religious Scotland 
that the most daring speculations as to Nature may 
be accompanied with the humblest faith in those 
subhme doctrines that open heaven alike to the wisest 
philosopher and the simplest peasant. I do not 
presume to arrogate the office of the preacher ; but, 
believe me, as a man of books, and a man of the world, 
that you inherit a religion which, in its most 
famihar form, in the lowly prayer that you have 
learned from your mother's hps, will save you from 
the temptations to which life is exposed more surely 
than all which the pride of philosophy can teach. 
Nor can I believe that the man will ever go very far 
or very obstinately wrong who, by the mere habit of 
thanksgiving and prayer, will be forced to examine 
his conscience even but once a day, and remember 
that the eye of the Almighty is upon him. 

One word further. Nothing, to my mind, preserves 
a brave people true and firm to its hereditary virtues, 


more than a devout though hberal spirit of nation- 
ahty. And it is not because Scotland is united with 
England that the Scotchman should forget the glories 
of his annals, the tombs of his ancestors, or relax one 
jot of his love for his native soil. I say not this to 
flatter you — I say it not for Scotland alone. I say 
it for the sake of the empire. For sure I am that, if 
ever the step of the invader should land upon these 
kindred shores — there, wherever the national spirit is 
the most strongly felt — there, where the local affec- 
tions most animate the breast — there will our defend- 
ers be the bravest. It would ill become me to enter 
into the special grounds of debate now at issue ; but 
permit me to remind you that, while pressing with 
your accustomed spirit for whatever you may deem 
to be equal rights, you would be unjust to your own 
fame if you did not feel that the true majesty of 
Scotland needs neither the pomp of courts nor the 
blazonry of heralds. What though Holy rood be 
desolate — what though no king holds revels in its 
halls ? — the empire of Scotland has but extended its 
range ; and, blended with England, under the daughter 
of your ancient kings, peoples the Australian wilds 
that lay beyond the chai-t of Columbus, and rules 
over the Indian realms that eluded the grasp of 
Alexander. That empire does not suffice for you. 
It may decay — it may perish. More grand is the 
domain you have won over human thought, and iden- 
tified with the eternal progress of intellect and free- 
dom. From the charter of that domain no cere- 
monial can displace the impression of your seal. In 


the van of that progress no blazon can flaunt before 
that old Lion of Scotland (pointmg to the flag sus- 
pended opposite) . This is the empire that you will 
adorn in peace ; this is the empire that, if need be, 
you will defend in war. It is not here that I would 
provoke one difference in political opinion — but surely 
you, the sons of Scotland, who hold both fame and 
power upon the same tenure as that which secures 
civilization from lawless force — surely you are not the 
men who could contemplate with folded arms the 
return of the dark ages, and quietly render up the 
haven that commands Asia on the one side and 
threatens Europe on the other, to the barbaric ambi- 
tion of some new Alaric of the north. But, whether 
in reluctant war or in happier peace, I can but bid 
you to be mindful of your fathers — learn from them 
how duties fulfilled in the world become honours after 
death; and in your various callings continue to 
maintain for Scotland her subhme alliance with every 
power of mind that can defend or instruct, soothe or 
exalt humanity. 









Delivered October 25, 1853. 

Ladies and G-entlemen, — The details we have 
heard of the early difficulties and infant struggles of 
this association are only just those trials which we 
are all Kable to encounter in every good and great 
work which we undertake ; and I should not consider 
a good worth possessing, unless it were deserving of 
those efforts which are required to make such an in- 
stitution as this prosper. Now, our excellent friends 
have given you some details as to the character 
and workings of this institution. I remember the 
time when the first mechanics' institutions were 
launched under the auspices of Dr. Birkbeek — a 
man whose name can never be held in too high 
reverence for disinterestedness and truly Christian 
patriotism, and his honoured colleagues, Lord 


Brougham and others. I rememher when they 
launched the first mechanics' institutions. They 
were intended not so much as schools in themselves, 
but as something to supply the defects of early edu- 
cation to that class who in former times had not had 
an opportunity of receiving such education, for you 
must remember that Dr. Birkbeck and others were 
the strenuous advocates of a better system of educa- 
tion for the young, and the mechanics' institutions 
were, to a large extent, something devised as a resource 
for those who had not had any opportunities for early 
education. Such being the case, in order to carry 
out the object of the founders of these institutions, 
it is not enough for you to draw together a large 
number of members in your lecture-room -or your 
library, or to collect books in your library; these 
things could have been obtained, probably, in a less 
convenient way before mechanics' institutions were 
created ; but one of the primary objects of mechan- 
ics' institutions was to enable young men, feeling 
themselves deficient in some particular branch of 
knowledge, to join a society where they could have 
an opportunity of repairing such deficiency. For 
this purpose it has been customary, in all good me- 
chanics' institutions, to estabhsh classes — classes for 
different branches of study, which young men, or men 
of middle age, or even old men, could join, and find 
that particular knowledge they were in quest of. 
Now, I beheve your institution has not such classes. 
I don't mean to mention it as a reproach, because 
you have had so many difficulties to fight against 


that I did not expect you could get over all these 
things at once ; but, having surmounted so many 
difficulties, and placed yom* institution, as I cannot 
but hope, on a firm basis, — for an institution which 
has grown into so many difficulties must have a fiim 
basis, — you must determine that it shaU be — what 
all mechanics' institutions were intended to be — a 
means of instruction to the neglected adult popula- 
tion. I think, too, you must have classes — classes for 
teaching arithmetic, geography, drawing ; and even 
chemistry is not too much to aspire to. You must 
have, also — and I hope you will — a class for French. 
Now, there has been an allusion to one branch of 
study which particularly interests the manufacturers 
of this district — I mean drawing and designing. I 
think I have heard the gentleman who last spoke 
say that there was no drawing master in Bamsley ; 
that you must have an itinerant drawing master, 
who, located at Sheffield, must have his circuit, radi- 
atiQg from that town, and who must pay occasional 
visits to Bamsley. If I were a Barnsley manufac- 
turer, and dealt in figured damask linens, I should 
beg and entreat the reporter not to let that fact get 
out ; don't let the world know that Dunfermline has 
got all the designs. Now, I am told, for I am very 
curious in inquiring anything about the art of design, 
inasmuch as my own business was very much con- 
nected with that art, — I have been told, I say, 
in consequence of inquiries I have made since 1 
arrived here, that your damask hnens — the patterns 
of those damask hnens which we all so much admire, 

BAEIfSLEY mechanics' INSTITUTION. 117 

are made by the weavers themselves ; that the pat- 
terns are designed by the labourer who weaves the 
cloth, and that he, so far from having had any in- 
struction in the art of designing, has been Hving in 
a town where there is no drawing master. Now, I 
take it as a proof that you have a talent for drawing 
among you, that you have had a body of men 
brought up as weavers, who have been able to make 
patterns for you ; but I say to the capitalists, " You 
are not doing justice to that mechanic, if you are 
only going to give him a ninth or a tenth part of a 
drawing master." You must let it go forth from this 
moment — and I hope my Mend on the left, who is 
interested in the matter, will rise before the conclu- 
sion of these proceedings and declare it — that 
another month shall not elapse before steps are taken 
to insure the presence of a drawing master in Barns- 
ley ; and that all those ingenious young weavers who 
are able to put together a damask pattern shall be so 
circumstanced as to be able to learn something of 
the art of design from a practical teacher before we 
meet here again. I say, then, that one of your 
classes must be a drawing class, and in this respect 
you will be aided by the Government in a way which 
I think it is perfectly legitimate for a government to 
aid — I mean this, you will be suppHed by the Board 
of Trade with the best possible models, both of 
sculpture and drawing. I say I am an advocate so 
far for centrahzation, that I will at all times sanc- 
tion and applaud a government which draws to one 
centre the best designs and models for di-awing and 


sculpture, and tlien multiplies those designs and models 
in tlie cheapest possible way, with a view to their 
diffusion among the general pubhc. It involves no 
imdue expense or the imposition of any unnecessary 
tax or interference with the powers of self-govern- 
ment, while the pubhc benefits and profits by the 
opportunity thus afforded of procuring such designs 
and models as the superior inteUigence and know- 
ledge of the gentlemen at the head of such a depart- 
ment, say in London, can give you in Bamsley or 
elsewhere of the best specimens of sculpture and 
forms of art which are to be found in London, Paris, 
or Eome. 

But I rather think you have already been to the 
Board of Trade, and got something in the way of 
models, or something of that kind ; and, if you have, 
I suppose you are going to make some use of them ; 
but you can't make any use of them unless you have 
got classes ; and I ^vill undertake, on behalf of this 
meeting and the inteUigent manufacturers of Bamsley, 
to say that it is intended to connect with this institu- 
tion a drawing class, and that a drawing master shall 
be appointed capable of giving ef&cient instruction. 

With regard to other branches — take, for instance, 
a class for arithmetic — I would ask, how many young 
men are there who may be sitting at their looms 
with the best of heads upon their shoulders — phre- 
nologically speaking — but who, from some circum- 
stances not under their control, had no opportunity 
of cultivating that head when a child? And yet 
such a young man feels within him a capacity to fill 


any Station of life, if he had only had the necessary 
education to enable him to rise in society. The first 
thing such a young man required, if he was to do 
anything in the way of business, was to learn some- 
thing of arithmetic ; but in your institution how is a 
young man to learn the rule of three or obtain any 
knowledge of arithmetic ? It is necessary, therefore, 
you should have a master. I don't mean a stipen- 
diary master, for I hope you will find independent 
pubhc-spirited men enough in Bamsley who will 
begin and initiate the necessary classes in connection 
with your institution, and that you will not only 
have drawing and arithmetic classes, but also a 
French class, for, now that French is very generally 
spoken, a knowledge of it is necessary to enable you 
to enter into communication with a large portion of 
the pubHc, and there is no reason why you in Barns- 
ley should not be able to do this as well as others. 

It is the object of mechanics' institutions to bring 
those branches. of knowledge within the reach of 
adult mechanics and labouring men in all the towns 
of the kingdom. Now, Bamsley is of such a size 
that it ought to be able to maintain a mechanics' in- 
stitution of such a magnitude as to support all these 
classes. I am aware it is difiicult in a small town 
to do this, but liere you have a population of from 
14,000 to 15,000 in Bamsley and the neighbourhood, 
and I must say that 250 members are not enough 
for a population of such magnitude. You must 
double that before we have another anniversary. 
Let every member try to find another member. 


and then tlie thing is done. Your terms are 10s. 
a-year. How in the world can anybody buy amuse- 
ment, or gratification, or enlightenment cheaper than 
at 10s. a-year ? And I would say to the members 
who already belong to the institution, you have a 
particular motive in trying to add to your numbers. 
You have already a large lecture theatre here, most 
admirably ai'ranged — rather too hot, I think. If you 
could contrive to arrange those hghts so as not to be 
so hot, it would be better. You have, I say, a large 
lecture theatre, a reading-room, and library, and I 
venture to say, if you double your numbers, you may 
still comfortably accommodate yourselves in your 
lectm'e-hall, reading-room, and library, while your 
fixed expenses remain the same. If your income at 
the present is 130/- a-year, your fixed charges will 
be from 701. to 80/., leaving you not more than 50/. 
for the purposes of lectures, purchasing newspapers, 
and such Hke things. Your cm-rent expenses must 
be going on, whether you have few or many mem- 
bers, and therefore, by increasing your numbers, the 
additional subscriptions you get will be so much gain 
in the way of providing education, and increased at- 
traction in your institution. If all the members 
were thus to act you would have a surplus fund, 
which would enable you to engage masters for your 
classes, and to enter into all those studies I have 
pointed out. Besides, having a double number, you 
would have a sufiicient number for each class to make 
it worth while for a teacher to give the necessary 
tuition in those classes ; therefore, those belong- 


ing to the institution have every motive for increasing 
the number of members. 

I think you ought also to try to estabhsh a school 
in connection with this institution. That is one of 
the most useful of the adjuncts of the Huddersfield 
and other mechanics' institutions. I would recom- 
mend you to endeavour to connect a school with this 
institution, as a feeder to it, for it is by means of 
schools that you areto get members. If, in consequence 
of the advices given by our friend Mr. Wilderspin, 
20 yeai's ago, there had been an infant school estab- 
lished in every village, you would not have wanted 
customers for your mechanics' institutions ; they 
would have grown up around you. And this brings 
me to the question — leaving for a moment this insti- 
tution — what were these institutions estabhshed 
for ? Not as a system of education, but to supple- 
ment the want of education, and we want the 
education still which we wanted when these institu- 
tions were founded. I know that it is made a vexed 
question, and to some extent a party question. I 
never regarded it as a party question. I don't care 
through what it comes. Give me voluntary edu- 
cation, or State education — but education I want. 
I cannot accept statistics to prove the number of 
people who attend schools — to prove that the people 
are educated, because I cannot shut my eyes to what 
is evident to my senses, — that the people are not 
educated, — that they are not being educated. I was 
talking only yesterday with a merchant in Manches- 
ter, who told me that he had attended at the swearing 


in of the militia in one of the largest manufacturing 
towns of England, and that not one-half of those 
sworn in could read, and not one-third could sign 
their names. Now, without wishing to utter any 
fanatical opinion with regard to the peace question, I 
must say, with all sincerity, I think it would have been 
much better to hand these young men over to the 
schoolmaster rather than to the drill-sergeant. For 
I think the safety of this country would be more 
promoted by teaching them to read and write than 
by teaching them to face about right rightly. I was 
talking this subject over to an old friend of mine at 
Preston, and he said, " I attended the coroner one 
day last week at an inquest. There were 13 jury- 
men ; five signed their names, and eight made their 
mark." Can I shut my eyes to what is going on 
around us ? I cannot, and therefore I say we are 
not an educated people ; and I say it is our duty, 
and our safety calls upon us, to see that the people 
are educated ; and I know of no place more fitting to 
discuss this subject than in such a meeting as this, 
because I take it for granted you are all interested in 
it. You all admit the deficiency of juvenile instruc- 
tion, or you would not have attended to the defective 
adult education. We are not an educated people, 
and I have no hesitation in asserting that, in point 
of school learning, the mass of the EngHsh people 
are the least instructed of any protestant community 
in the world. I say that deliberately. I remember 
quite well at the time of the Hungarian emigration 
into this country, after the revolution, a very distin- 


guished minister or religious teacher of Hungary, was 
talking to me on the subject of our education, and I 
told him a large portion of our people could neither 
read nor vmte. He could not beheve it, and said, 
" If it is true a large proportion of your people can 
neither read nor write, how do you maintain your 
constitutional franchises and your pohtical liberties ? 
Why, it is evident to me that your institutions are 
rather ahead of your people, and that this self-govern- 
ment is only a bad habit with you.' ' It is a habit, and 
we will cling to it and hold it ; but I want a safer 
foundation. I want to have our self-government a 
habit of appreciation — something our people will be 
proud of, and not simply a habit ; and there is no 
security unless it is based upon a wider intelhgence 
of the people than we meet with at the present 
moment. It meets us at every turn — you can't 
do anything in social reform but you are met with 
the question of education. Take the question of 
sanitary reform. Why do people hve in bad cellars, 
surrounded by filth and disease ? You may say it is 
their poverty, but their poverty comes as much 
from their ignorance as their vices; and their 
vices often spring from their ignorance. The great 
mass of the people don't know what the sanitary 
laws are ; they don't know that ventilation is good 
for health ; they don't know that the miasma of an 
unscavenged street or impure alley is productive 
of cholera and disease. If they did know these 
things people would take care they inhabited better 
houses ; and if people were only more careful in their 


habits than they are, and husbanded their means, 
they might get into better houses. And when I hear 
persons advocate temperance, which I, as one of the 
most temperate men in the world, always hke to hear 
advocated, I say the best way is to afford them some 
other occupation or recreation than that which is 
derived only through their senses — the best way is 
to give them education. If the working man is de- 
prived of those recreations which consist of the in- 
tellectual and moral enjoyments that education and 
good training give, he naturally falls into the excite- 
ment of sensual indulgence, because excitement all 
human beings must have. Therefore, when you wish 
to make them more temperate, and secure moral and 
sanitary and social improvements among the working 
classes, education, depend upon it, must be at the 
bottom of it all. 

Grentlemen, I see in different parts of the country 
a great social movement going on between different 
classes of the community. For instance, in the town 
of Preston you have 20,000 to 30,000 persons out of 
work, and there is in that place not a chimney but 
is cold and cheerless — neither smoke nor steam cheer- 
ing your eyes. Look at the destitution and misery 
caused by leaving a town in this state for a month 
or six weeks. Why is this ? I answer, it springs 
from ignorance. Not ignorance confined to one 
party in the dispute. It is ignorance on both sides, 
and deplorable in its result. But do you suppose 
that when the world becomes more enhghtened you 
will have such a scene as this, of a whole community 


stopping its labours for a month or six weeks, and 
creating misery, immorality, and destitution, that 
may not be removed for five or six years to come ? 
When masters and men understand the principles 
upon which the rate of wages and profits depend, 
they will settle their matters and arrange their dif- 
ferences in a less bungling way than that which now 
brings so much misery upon all parties to the quarrel. 
Even now, however, we see great progress in this 
respect. I remember the time when the cessation of 
labour by 25,000 persons would have led to riot and 
disturbance, and the callrug out of the mihtary. 
This is not to be seen now. We see passive resist- 
ance and firmness to an extent which, if they had 
pohcy and propriety at their back, would be highly 
desirable and most commendable. 

But, gentlemen, we shall probably hve to see the 
time when another step will be taken onward. You 
will hve to see the time when men will settle these 
matters, not by resorting to blind passion, by vitu- 
peration, and counter-vituperation — when the ques- 
tion of wages will be left to the master and man to 
arrange according to then* own interest — when the 
whole question of wages and the rate of wages will 
be settled just as quietly as you now see the price of 
any article fixed in the pubHc market. They did 
not fiind that people who went to market with cattle, 
potatoes, or anything else, struck against the buyers 
of those cattle or potatoes. They did not find that 
the seller of the cattle struck against the seller of the 
potatoes, and that the buyers and the eaters of the 


potatoes stood quietly by and starved while the 
potatoes rotted. They did not find men doing such 
things ; but they found that it was by the higgling 
of the market that they tranquilly decided its price ; 
they thus fixed the price of the day, and the whole 
thing was quietly settled without that irritation and 
waste of property, without that misery and suffering, 
which I consider most painftd, and, as a sign of the 
intelligence of the day, the most discreditable — that 
struggle between master and workpeople which is 
passing in our time. I am not saying one word of 
the merits of either side upon this question. Both 
parties think themselves right, and both are, no 
doubt, right in attempting to get the best price they 
can, the one for his labour, and the other for his 
capital ; but if there were more intelligence upon this 
question — if the laws were better understood which 
decide finally and inexorably the relative value of 
laboiu' as well as everything else, these matters would 
be settled without that hideous amount of suffering 
which I deplore to see accompanying these strikes 
and troubles in the manufacturing districts. And 
when I say, gentlemen, that inteUigence will put an 
end to these things, I am only saying that will be 
done here which has already been done in America. 
You cannot point to an instance in America, where 
people have more education than they have here, of 
the total cessation from labour of a whole community, 
of an entire town given over as a prey to destitution. 
You cannot point out such an instance in America : 
neither will you see it in England when that intelli- 


gence and enlightenment which these institutions 
are intended to promote shall he spread throughout 
our country. 

Well, gentlemen, this brings me back again to the 
point that we want schools — schools to teach people 
these principles — schools to teach people from their 
youth to take a calm and reasoning view of the 
things which affect their interest, and so to educate 
them that they shall not allow others to lead them 
away by appeals to their passions. We shall never 
be safe as a manufacturing and mining community 
until a school invariably grows up along with every 
manufactory and at the mouth of every pit and mine 
in the kingdom. Now, gentlemen, I must here 
again allude to America. When I came through 
Manchester the other day I found many of the most 
influential manufacturing capitahsts talking very 
gravely upon a report which had reached them from 
a gentleman who was selected by the Government to 
go out to America, to make a report upon the Great 
Exhibition in New York. That gentleman was one 
of the most eminent of the mechanicians and machine- 
makers of Manchester, employing a very large num- 
ber of workpeople, renowned for the quahty of his 
productions, and known in the scientific world, and 
whose scientific attainments were appreciated from 
the Astronomer Eoyal downwards. He has been 
over to New York to report upon the progress of 
mechanics and mechanical arts in the United States. 
WeU, he has returned. No report from him to the 
Government has, as yet, been pubhshed, and what he 


has to say specifically upon the subject will not be 
known until that report has been so made and pub- 
Hshed to the country. But it has oozed out in 
Manchester among his neighbours, that he has found 
in America a degree of intelhgence among the manu- 
facturing operatives and a state of things in the 
mechanical arts which have convinced him that, if 
we are to hold our own — if we are not to fall back 
in the rear of the race of nations — ^we must educate 
our people so as to put them upon a level with the 
more educated artizans of the United States. We 
shall all have an opportunity of judging of this 
matter when that report is issued ; but sufficient has 
already oozed out among his neighbours to excite a 
great interest, and, I may say, some alarm. Well, I 
am dehghted to find an intelligent man has been 
selected for this duty, for all the world wiU approve 
of the selection made, because the gentleman alluded 
to was fully competent to the task ; and he has come 
to teU us it is necessary to educate the people. I 
went to that country 20 years ago, and I published 
a record of my opinions. That was written in 1835, 
and I stated that England would be brought to the 
consciousness that it was to that country she would 
have to look with apprehension as to manufacturing 
rivalry ; and now I am dehghted that it should turn 
out as I have stated, that it has come from a quarter 
— from a person so well quahfied to procure correct 
information that no one wiU question the truth of 
his report when it comes out. I say I am dehghted, 
because I want England to know her danger, if there 


is one. Napoleon used to say to those in communi- 
cation with him, " If you have any bad news to tell 
me, awake me at any hour of the night, for good 
news will keep, but bad news I cannot know too 
soon." I say, then, I am delighted with this, for 
let but Englishmen know of a danger to face, and of 
a difficulty to surmount, and there is nothing within 
the compass of human capacity which they will not 
accomphsh ; but the great misfortune is, that Eng- 
lishmen are too much given up to and incrusted with 
their insulai' pride and prejudice, — a sort of Chinese 
notion of superiority, — that they will not awaken up 
and use their eyes as to what is going on in other 
countries, until it is too late. I am glad, therefore, 
that this question is to be brought forward ; but why 
should America be better educated than England ? 
Do you think that a new country, which has the 
wilderness to cultivate, primeval forests to level, 
roads to make, and every bridge and church to erect, 
— do you think that such a country is in a position 
to rival an old country, if that country will only do 
its duty to its people ? No ; an old country has 
greater advantages and facihties at command than a 
new one ; and if you find a new country beating 
an old one in this matter, depend upon it, it is be- 
cause of some fault in the old one. We don't read 
in ancient Greece, when she sent forth her colonies, 
that they became the teachers of the mother country. 
No ; Athens always remained the teacher of the 
whole world. And it is a shame if a new people, 
sent out from us only yesterday, is to be held up for 



our admiration and example, and this too in the mat- 
ter of education. 

Now, I hope that it wont be said that there is 
anything in these remarks which is out of place in 
an assembly such as this. It appears to me that if 
there can be a meeting at which such a subject as 
this should be discussed, it is just such a meeting as 
this. We are all here, at all events, presumed to feel 
a great interest in the subject of education, and 
therefore anxious to promote it. And I don't de- 
spair even now. I should not despair of this country, 
if the people of this country would only resolve to 
do it, surpassing all the world in education in a gen- 
eration or two. But we must not refuse to adopt 
the improved machinery of other countries. We 
must not be Hke the Chinese with their junks, who 
refuse to build their ships after our improved model ; 
we must not refuse to adopt what we see in other 
countries if better than our own. If we see the 
Americans beating us in their spinning-jennies and 
in their saihng-boats, we adopt their improvements ; 
if they send over a yacht which beats ours, we send 
over and build one which will beat them ; if a man 
comes over and picks our locks, we may wonder how 
it is he makes better locks than we do, but we buy 
them ; and so it is in other matters of this kind. 
But, on the question of education, they have in 
the United States adopted a system which we in 
this country have not adopted, except in Scotland to 
some extent ; and what is so natural as that we 
should follow the same rule in this matter as we do 


in the manufacture of our machines for spinning 
cotton, and in the construction of our ships ? I take 
it that, the result being in favour of American edu- 
cation, it proves that they have adopted better means 
than we have, and, if we would rival them, we must 
not be ashamed to adopt their plan, if better than 
our own. There is not any party, I beheve, now 
opposed to education, none who do not think that 
there is more danger from ignorance in our present 
artificial state than in education. Whatever our 
political predilections, there is not one who will not 
say — whatever we are doomed to imdergo, whether 
proceeding from a straitening of circumstances, from 
a decline of our commerce, or from difficulties of a 
strictly poHtical character — whatever there may be 
in store for us of troubles and distresses — there is 
nobody but wiU say we had better have an educated 
people to meet them than have to encounter them 
with masses of ignorance and untrained passion ; for, 
after all, the masses of the people do govern in this 
coimtry — they are called on in the last resort. 
Every one must admit it is better to have an arbi- 
trator who is trained to discuss reasons and to deduce 
facts from evidence — it is better to have minds of 
this sort to settle great national questions than to 
refer such mighty interests to the arbitrament of 
ignorance and passion. 

Now, ladies and gentlemen, if I have said too 
much on this subject to you and to those elsewhere 
who may read what we are now saying, I must tell 
you, that I feel so strongly upon it, that when aniong 


a body of men met together in favour of education, 
I cannot be responsible for withholding my opinions 
in reference to the want of juvenile education, for it 
is not possible to compensate for the want of juvenile 
education by means of such institutions as this. We 
may by such means improve the education of the 
people, but we can't have a really educated and safe 
community imless we begin at the beginning, by 
training the young. I can only say, whether you 
look at this question of education in the interest of 
morahty or rehgion, as affecting the happiness, in- 
terest, or the welfare of society — in whatever way 
you regard this question, you may depend upon it 
the very highest interests, the dignity, honour, and 
happiness of the people, are bound up with it. 






Delivered in the Music Hall, Albion Steeet, Z>ece»i6er 8, 1852. 

Ladies and GtENTLemek, — Your excellent presi- 
dent having conveyed to me a wish that I should 
preside at this meeting of the Leeds Mechanics' 
Institution, I had great pleasure in complying with 
his request; for, since the first establishment of 
mechanics' institutes, I have had the greatest 
satisfaction in seemg how much they have con- 
tributed to the instruction of those who belong to 
them, and to the general knowledge and to the 
general welfai-e of the country. I had the pleasure 
of assisting Dr. Birkbeck in the beginning of these 
institutions. I wish now, as far as I am able, to 
address you upon some points of general concern. 
My ignorance of the particulars and details relating 
to these institutions would make it an impertinence 
on my part if I were to attempt to go into those 


matters to which your president has referred. I am 
glad to say that from the last report of the institution 
it appears that the various objects to which it is 
intended to minister — the schools, the classes, the 
instructions of various kinds, and the Hhraries, have 
all been well supported, and that there are not less 
than 2,000 members belonging to your association. 
It occurs to me, however, that if I can address any- 
thing to you worthy of observation, it should be 
rather upon the general state of knowledge at this 
time, and the prospect of what is before us, than 
upon any particulars relating to the institution over 
which I am now presiding. Let us observe how very 
different the present state of affairs is from the time 
when great foundations were made for the purposes 
of education and instruction. Before the Reforma- 
tion, and immediately afterwards, great sums of 
money and broad lands were given for the purpose of 
endowing academies, colleges, and schools, for educa- 
tion. Om' ancestors thought, and I believe wisety 
thought, that the best plan they could adopt was to 
teach, or to provide means for teaching, the science 
and the hteratm'e which had been derived from 
ancient nations, for in those days that science and 
that literature contained aU that was known, that 
was really worthy of study, the most profound works 
upon subjects of geometry and science, and the best 
models of hterary writing. I am far from thinking 
that our ancestors committed an error, either when 
they directed the education of youth almost ex- 
clusively to these objects, or when they decided that a 


great length of time should be given to that know- 
ledge ; but we have to consider that in the present 
day we stand in a totally different position. Not 
that we ought to forget what great advantages we 
have derived from the science and the Hterature of 
ancient nations ; because upon the geometry delivered 
to us from the ancients has been founded all that in- 
crease of knowledge which ended in the discoveries of 
Newton, — from the writings of the poets of antiquity 
the great poets of modern times have derived the 
best models they could imitate, — from the jurispru- 
dence of the Romans were derived the laws by which 
most of the nations of the continent have been ruled. 
But, while this tribute must be paid, it is a paramount 
object of attention that we, in the com'se of the three 
centuries and a half that have elapsed from what is 
called "the revival of letters," have added to the 
stores that we have received immense stores of our 
own, — that by the side of that rich mine we have 
opened other mines, which, if not of richer ore, are 
more easily worked, and are more abundant in their 
produce. It was Lord Bacon who first pointed out 
that the mode of the pursuit of science for modem 
nations ought to be different from that mode for the 
discovery of truth which had been pointed out by 
some of the great philosophers. It has been much 
questioned whether Lord Bacon was in fact the guide 
by whom other discoverers have been enabled to 
pursue the track of knowledge and of invention, and 
upon that point I think it is certainly clear that it 
was not Lord Bacon who enabled Galileo and Torri- 

136 LORD JOHJf eussi:ll. 

celli, Pascal, Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, and Kepler, 
to make the great discoveries which have immortalized 
their names. But what is true is, that Lord Bacon 
at a very early period laid down the rules by which 
all modern men of science have guided themselves. 
He pointed out the road they have followed, and laid 
down more clearly, more broadly, more ably than any 
one else, the great method by which modem discovery 
should be pursued. You will find, I think, if you 
pursue this subject — ^if those who belong to me- 
chanics' institutes will study the two works of Lord 
Bacon, the one called the New Organ, and the other 
on the Instauration of the Sciences, — you will find that 
the latest discoveries, the latest inventions, have been 
made according to that mode which he pointed out. 
A work was published but a year ago by Mr. Fair- 
baim, giving an account of the experiments which he 
adopted under the direction of Mr. Stephenson, and 
by which that gentleman was enabled to construct 
the tubular bridges at Conway and over the Menai 
Straits. You will find that all those experiments 
were according to the rules which Lord Bacon has 
laid down. Take another work on geology, and a 
most interesting work it is, called the Old Red Sand- 
stone, by Mr. Hugh Miller, and you will find in that 
interesting work, which is as remarkable for the 
beauty of its style as for the importance of its matter, 
that Mr. Hugh Miller, being at first a mason working 
in a stone quarry, pursued, in his method of investi- 
gation, the same rules which Lord Bacon, more than 
three centuries ago, laid down, and which have thus 



LEEDS mechanics' INSTITUTION. 137 

become the foundation of the law, as it were, of 
modern science. And now, ladies and gentlemen, 
having said thus much with regard to the original 
method, let me venture to say that, interested as no 
doubt the members of the Mechanics' Institute may 
be in the vaiious sciences which of late have made so 
great a progress,— that, interesting to you as are 
those discoveries which have given us the power of 
rapid locomotion, and the electric telegraph, — wonder- 
ful and extraordinary as aU those discoveries are, and 
the study of the means and methods by which they 
were made, I would earnestly press upon you that 
there is one science which, though its practical use is 
rather upon the sea than upon the land, is yet worthy 
of the deepest study, on account of the magnificent 
results which it unfolds. The science to which I 
allude is the science of astronomy. Whether those 
who, having begun the mathematical studies with the 
simplest problems of geometry, wish to pursue them 
to the end, and follow the works of Newton himself 
— and no more interesting works can be studied by 
a mathematician — with the view of seeing how it 
was that he discovered that great law of gravitation 
by which his name will be for ever known, or whether, 
contenting yourselves with the popular accounts of 
astronomy in many of the works of the day, written 
by Sir Jolfti Herschell and other eminent men — 
whether you pursue one branch or the other — you 
cannot fail to be struck with the dread magnificence 
of heaven which is unfolded to you in astronomical 
speculations. That course of discovery, be it re- 


marked, is still open — it is still pursued ; and it is 
but lately that it has been found that those parts of 
the heavens which seem to be mere collections of 
luminous clouds, and not to contain anything like 
form of world or form of suns, are in fact full of stars, 
small in appearance to us, but really of very great 
magnitude, though at an immensely remote distance ; 
so that, as it were, a new heaven is opened to us, and 
it appears that to Him to whom " a thousand years 
are but a day" a thousand worlds are but a speck. 
I certainly shall not attempt to detain you, and to 
occupy your time by spealdng of any of those other 
sciences which all have their delight and their utihty. 
Let me only say that there cannot be a greater 
mistake than that which prevailed a number of years 
ago, when I first visited this district — and I am sorry 
to say it is now 40 years since I came into the district, 
and in company with a learned and eminent man, 
the late Professor Playfair, visited your factories and 
workshops, I was struck — I could not fail to be struck 
— by the ingenuity displayed, by the wealth that was 
obtained ; but I own that I left the manufacturing 
districts with somewhat of a paiuful feeling that no 
greater means were used to spread and obtain know- 
ledge, and that a theory seemed to prevail — a false 
and unfounded theory I am sure it was — that those 
who are continually occupied in toihng "and in spin- 
ning, in hammering and in forging, could not obtain 
time to have the means of penetrating the recesses 
of science and of literature. I beheve that no doc- 
trine ever was more false ; and experience indeed has 

LEEDS mechanics' INSTITUTION. 139 

proved that, while science and literature add to the 
skill and to the ability by which the artizan conducts 
his trade, on the other hand his toil is sweetened by 
the comfort of thinking that he can read and instruct 
himself when his hour of leisure shall arrive. G-entle- 
men, I noted in a journal I kept at that time the 
various manufactm-es I had visited and the inventions 
I had seen, and I ended with a few observations on 
the moral and intellectual state of the manufacturing 
districts, expressing, with the sanguine hope of youth, 
a confident expectation that great improvement 
would be made in these respects ; and I come now, 
after this long period, to rejoice in the prospect that 
that hope is being fulfilled. 

I will now tm-n for a short time to the subject of 
literature. That subject again is so vast that if I 
were to attempt to go over any one of its numerous 
fields I should not find the time sufficient to enable 
me to do so ; but there is one leading remark which 
I will venture to make, and which, I think, it is worth 
while for any person who studies literature to keep 
in view. There are various kinds of productions of 
literature, of very different forms and of very different 
tastes — some grave and some gay, some of extreme 
fancy, some rigorously logical, but all, as I think, 
demanding this as their quality, — that truth shall 
prevail in them. A French author has said that 
nothing is beautiful but truth, that truth alone is 
lovely, but that truth ought to prevail even in fable. 
I believe that remark is perfectly correct; and I 
beUeve you cannot use a better test even of works of 


imagination than to see whether they are true to 
nature. Now, perhaps I can better explain what I 
mean in this respect by giving you one or two in- 
stances than I should be able to do by precept and 
explanation. A poet of very great celebrity in the 
last century, and who certainly was a poet distin- 
guished for much fancy and great power of pathos, 
but who had not the merit of being always as true 
as he is pointed in the poetry he has written — I 
mean Young — has said, at the commencement, I 
think, of one of his " Nights " : — 

" Sleep, like the world, his ready \isit pays 
Where fortune smiles ; the wretched he forsakes. 
And lights on lids unsullied with a tear." 

Now, if you will study that sentence you will see 
there are two things which the poet has confounded 
together. He has confounded together those who 
are fortunate in their peace of mind, those who are 
fortunate in the possession of health, and those who 
are fortunate in worldly advantages. Now, it fre- 
quently happens that the man who is the worst off 
in his worldly circumstances — to whom the world 
wiU pay no homage — on whom it would not be said 
that fortune smiled, enjoys sweeter and more regular 
sleep than those who are in the possession of the 
highest advantages of rank and wealth. You will all 
remember, no doubt, that in a passage I need not 
quote, another poet — one always true to nature— 
Shakspeare, has described the shipboy amidst the 
storm, notwithstanding all the perils of his position 
on the mast, as enjoying a quiet sleep, while he 

LEEDS mechanics' INSTITUTION. 141 

describes the king as unable te enjoy any rest. That 
is the poet true to nature; and you will thus, by 
following observations of this kind, by applying that 
test to poetry as well as to history and to reasoning, 
obtain a correct judgment as to whether what you 
are reading is really worth your attention and worth 
your admiration, or whether it is faulty and is not so 
deserving. I may give another instance, and I could 
hardly venture to do so if my friend and your friend, 
Lord CarHsle, were here, because the want of truth I 
am going to point out is in the writings of Pope. 
There is a very beautiful ode of Horace, in which, 
exalting the merits of poetry, he says that many 
brave men lived before Agamemnoh ; that there were 
many great sieges before the siege of Troy ; that 
before Achilles and Hector existed there were brave 
men and great battles; but that, as they had no 
poet, they died, and that it required the genius of 
poetry to give immortal existence to the bravery of 
armies and of chiefs. Pope has copied this ode of 
Horace, and in some respects has well copied and 
imitated it in some lines which certainly are worthy 
of admiration, beginning — 

" Lest you should think that verse shall die, 
Which sounds the silver Thames along." 

But in the instances which he gives he mentions 
Newton, and says that not only brave men had Hved 
and fought, but that other Newtons "systems fram'd." 
Now, here he has not kept to the merit and truth of 
his original, for, though it may be quite true that 
there were distinguished armies and wonderful sieges. 


and that their memory has passed into oblivion, it is 
not at all probable that any man lilie Newton followed 
by mathematical roads the line of discovery, and that 
those great truths which he discovered should have 
perished and fallen into obhvion. I give you these 
two instances of want of truth even in celebrated 
poets, and I think it is a matter you will do well 
always to keep in view, because there is a remarkable 
difference between the history of science and the 
history of hterature. In the history of science the 
progress of discovery is gradual. Those who make 
these discoveries sometimes commit great errors. 
They fall into many absurd mistakes, of which I 
could give you numerous instances ; but these blun- 
ders and these errors disappear — the discoveries alone 
remain ; other men afterwards make these discoveries 
the elements and the groundwork of new investiga- 
tions, and thus the progress of science is continual : 
but truth remains, the methods of investigation even 
are shortened, and the progress continually goes on. 
But it is not so with regard to hterature. It has 
indeed happened often in the history of the world, 
among nations that have excelled in hterature, after 
great works had been produced which brought down 
the admiration of aU who could read them, that others, 
attempting to go farther — attempting to do something 
still better — have produced works written in the most 
affected and unnatm-al style, and, instead of promoting 
Hterature, have corrupted the taste of the nation in 
which they Hved. Now, this is a thing against which 
I think we should always be upon our guard, and, 


having those great models of literature which we 
possess before us, — having Shakspeare, and Milton, 
and Pope, and a long line of illustrious poets and 
authors, — we should always study to see that the 
literature of the day is, if not on a par with, at least 
as pui*e in point of taste as that which has gone before 
it, and to take care that we do not, instead of advanc- 
ing in letters, fall back and decay in the productions 
of the time. I will now mention to you another 
instance. It is apparently but a trifling one, but 
still it is one in which I think nature and truth are 
so well observed that it may be worth your while to 
listen to it. One of our writers, who the most 
blended amusement with instruction, and ease of style 
with solidity of matter, as you all know, was Addison. 
Pie describes a ride he had along with a country 
squire, whom he fell in with in travelling from London 
to a distant town. They came to an inn, and Addi- 
son says that they ordered a bowl of punch for their 
entertainment. The country squire began, as was 
perhaps a mode with country squires, which may 
have continued even to the present day, to depreciate 
trade, and to say that foreign trade was the ruin of 
the country, and that it was too bad that the foreigner 
should have so much the advantage of our English 
money. Upon which, says Addison, " I just caUed 
his attention to the punch that we were going to 
drink, and I said, ' If it were not for foreign trade, 
where would be the rum, and the lemons, and the 
sugar, which we are about to consume?'" The 
squire was considerably embarrassed with this remark 


but the landlord, who was standing by, came to his 
assistance, and said, " There is no better drink than a 
cup of English water, if it has but plenty of malt in 
it." Now, although that appears a shght and trifling 
story, and told in a very common way, yet it is per- 
fectly true to nature, and it conveys in a very hvely 
manner a rebuke to the ignorance and prejudice of 
the person with whom Addison represents himself to 
be conversing. 

Having made these observations, you will, perhaps, 
permit me, ladies and gentlemen, to say that the 
cause of my venturing to come here is, that I might 
both see the progress that you are making in instruc- 
tion of all kinds, and also that I might express my 
hopes and my wishes for your welfare in the time 
that is to come. It has been my fortune, since the 
active part of my hfe began, to hve in times of peace, 
and to see great discoveries and great improvements. 
I think you will feel that we who have had the direc- 
tion of affairs dming that time — I speak not now of 
any difference of pohtical parties or of rehgious sects, 
but taking us altogether, all pohtical parties, and 
men of all rehgious denominations, — I think we have 
not done ill for the country during that period in 
which we have borne an active share in its affairs. If 
you look back to 1815, when a bloody and costly 
struggle terminated, I think you will see that since 
that period, whether by the judgment of Parhament 
— whether by the action of great bodies and great 
societies — or whether by the skiU and invention of 
individuals, the condition of the people of this land 

LEEDS mechanics' INSTITUTION. 145 

has very much improved. While the means of sus- 
tenance have become cheaper — while the public bur- 
dens have become less — while the means of education 
have been improved — there has been, with these cir- 
cumstances, and partly owing to these circumstances, 
a general progress in society. I think that we who 
have belonged to that time, — and, as I tell you again, 
I wish to make no political allusion, or to claim for 
one party over another any advantage — but I say 
generally that we who have lived in this time have, 
upon the whole, not ill performed our duty. It will 
be for you, when we retire from the more active 
business of this scene, to endeavour to carry on to 
still greater knowledge, to still more comfort, to still 
greater wellbeing, the country in which you live. 
There is a great charge imposed upon you, and 1 
trust you will properly perform it. Let no insane 
passion carry you without reason into contests with 
foreign countries. Let no unworthy prejudices induce 
you to withhold from any part of 3^om* countrymen 
that which is their due. Let no previous convictions 
prevent you from examining every subject with im- 
partial eyes, and from placing before you the light 
of truth, which ought to guide you in your investi- 
gations. "With these convictions I am persuaded you 
will abide by the institutions which you have, by the 
faith which you hold, and that you will adorn the 
country to which you belong. 






Delivered Wednesday, March 21, 1849. 

Mt first duty, gentlemen, is to return you my 
thanks for the honour which you have conferred on 
me. You well know that it was wholly unsolicited ; 
and I can assure you that it was wholly unexpected. 
I may add that if I had been invited to become a 
candidate for your sufirages, I should respectfully 
have declined the invitation. My predecessor, whom 
I am so happy as to be able to call my friend, de- 
clared from this place last year, in language which 
well became him, that he would not have come for- 
ward to displace so eminent a statesman as Lord John 
Russell. I can with equal truth affirm that I would 
not have come forward to displace so estimable a 
gentleman and so accomphshed a scholar as Colonel 
Mure. But Colonel M\ire felt last year that it was 
not for him, and I now feel that it is not for me, 
to question the propriety of your decision on a point 


of which, by the constitution of your body, you are 
the judges. I therefore gratefully accept the office 
to which I have been called, Mly purposing to use 
whatever powers belong to it with a single view to 
the welfare and credit of your society. 

I am not using a mere phrase of course, when I 
say that the feelings with which I bear a part in the 
ceremony of this day are such as I find it difficult to 
utter in words. I do not think it strange that when 
that great master of eloquence, Edmund Burke, stood 
where I now stand, he faltered and remained mute. 
Doubtless the multitude of thoughts which rushed 
into his mind was such as he could not easily arrange 
or express. In truth, there are few spectacles more 
striking or affecting than that which a great historical 
place of education presents on a solemn public day. 
There is something strangely interesting in the con- 
trast between the venerable antiquity of the body 
and the fresh and ardent youth of the great majority 
of the members. Recollections and hopes crowd 
upon us together. The past and the future are at 
once brought close to us. Our thoughts wander back 
to the time when the foundations of this ancient 
building were laid, and forward to the time when 
those whom it is our office to guide and to teach will 
be the guides and teachers of our posterity. On the 
present occasion we may, with peculiar propriety, give 
such thoughts their course. For it has chanced that 
my magistracy has fallen on a great secular epoch. 
This is the four hundredth year of the existence of 
your University. At such jubilees as these, jubilees 


of which no individual sees more than one, it is natu- 
ral, and it is good, that a society like this, a society 
which survives all the transitory parts of which it is 
composed, a society which has a corporate existence 
and a perpetual succession, should review its annals, 
should retrace the stages of its growth from infancy 
to maturity, and should try to find, in the experience 
of generations which have passed away, lessons which 
may he profitable to generations yet unborn. 

The retrospect is full of interest and instruction. 
Perhaps it may be doubted whether, since the Chris- 
tian era, there has been, any point of time more im- 
portant to the highest interests of mankind than that 
at which the existence of yom^ University commenced. 
It was at the moment of a great destruction and of 
a great creation. Your society was instituted just 
before the empire of the East perished ; that strange 
empire, which, dragging on a languid life through 
the great age of darkness, connected together the 
two great ages of Hght ; that empire which, adding 
nothing to our stores of knowledge, and producing 
not one man great in letters, in science, or in art, yet 
preserved, in the midst of barbarism, those master- 
pieces of Attic genius which the liighest minds still 
contemplate, and long wiU contemplate, with admii'- 
ing despair. And at that very time, while the fana- 
tical Moslem were plundering the churches and 
palaces of Constantinople, breaking in pieces Grecian 
sculpture, and giving to the flames piles of Grrecian 
eloquence, a few humble German artizans, who httle 
knew that they were calling into existence a power 


far mightier than that of the victorious Sultan, were 
busied in cutting and setting the first types. The 
University came into existence just in time to see 
the last trace of the Eoman empire disappear, and to 
see the earliest printed book. 

At this conjuncture, a conjuncture of unrivalled 
interest in the history of letters, a man, never to be 
mentioned without reverence by every lover of letters, 
held the highest place in Europe. Our just attach- 
ment to that Protestant faith to which our country 
owes so much, must not prevent us from paying the 
tribute which, on this occasion, and in this place, 
justice and gratitude demand, to the founder of the 
University of Griasgow, the greatest of the restorers 
of learning. Pope Nicholas the Fifth. He had sprung 
from common people ; but his abilities and his erudi- 
tion early attracted the notice of the great. He had 
studied much and travelled far. He had visited 
Britain, which, in wealth and refinement, was to his 
native Tuscany what the back settlements of America 
now are to Britain. He had lived with the merchant 
princes of Florence, those men who first ennobled 
trade by making trade the ally of philosophy, of 
eloquence, and of taste. It was he who, under the 
protection of the munificent and discerning Cosmo, 
arranged the first public library that modern Europe 
possessed. From privacy your founder rose to a 
throne ; but on the throne he never forgot the studies 
which had been his dehght in privacy. He was the 
centre of an illustrious group composed partly of the 
last great scholars of Greece, and partly of the first) 


great scholars of Italy, Theodore Gaza and George 
of Trebisond, Bessarion and Filelfo, Marsilio Ficino 
and Poggio Bracciolini. Bj him was founded the 
Vatican library, then and long after the most precious 
and most extensive collection of books in the world. 
By him were carefully preserved the most valuable 
intellectual treasures which had been snatched from 
the wreck of the Byzantine empire. His agents were 
to be found everywhere, in the bazaars of the farthest 
East, in the monasteries of the farthest West, pm*- 
chasing or copying worm-eaten parchments, on which 
were traced words worthy of immortahty. Under 
his patronage were prepared accurate Latin versions 
of many precious remains of Greek poets and philo- 
sophers. But no department of hterature owes so 
much to him as history. By him were introduced 
to the knowledge of Western Europe two great and 
unrivalled models of historical composition, the work 
of Herodotus and the work of Thucydides. By him, 
too, our ancestors were first made acquainted with 
the gracefid and lucid simpHcity of Xenophon and 
with the manly good sense of Polybius. 

It was while he was occupied with cares like these 
that his attention was called to the intellectual wants 
of this region, a region now swarming with popula- 
tion, rich with culture, and resounding with the clang 
of machinery, a region which now sends forth fleets 
laden with its adnurable fabrics, to lands of which, in 
his days, no geographer had ever heard, then a wild, 
a poor, a half barbarous tract, lying on the utmost 
verge of the known world. He gave his sanction to 


the plan of establishing a University at Grlasgow, and 
bestowed on the new seat of learning all the privileges 
which belonged to the University of Bologna. I can 
conceive that a pitying smile passed over his face as 
he named Bologna and Glasgow together. At Bo- 
logna he had long studied. No spot in the world 
had been more favoured by nature or by art. The 
stirrounding country was a fruitful and sunny country, 
a country of corn fields and vineyards. In the city, 
the house of Bentivoglio bore rule, a house which 
vied with the house of Medici in taste and magnifi- 
cence, which has left to posterity noble palaces and 
temples, and which gave a splendid patronage to arts 
and letters. Grlasgow he just knew to be a poor, 
a small, a rude town, a town, as he would have 
thought, not likely ever to be great and opulent ; for 
the soil, compared with the rich countr}^ at the foot 
of the Apennines, was barren, and the climate was 
such that an Italian shuddered at the thought of it. 
But it is not on the fertility of the soil, it is not on 
the mildness of the atmosphere, that the prosperity 
of nations chiefly depends. Slavery and superstition 
can make Campania a land of beggars, and can change 
the plain of Enna into a desert. Nor is it beyond 
the power of human intelligence and energy, deve- 
loped by civil and spiritual freedom, to turn sterile 
rocks and pestilential marshes into cities and gardens. 
Enlightened as your founder was, he little knew that 
he was himself a chief agent in a great revolution, 
physical and moral, pohtical and religious, in a revo- 
lution destined to make the last first, and the first 


last, in a revolution destined to invei-t the relative 
positions of Glasgow and Bologna. We cannot, I 
think, better employ a few minutes than in reviewing 
the stages of this great change in human affairs. 

The review shall be short. Indeed I cannot do 
better than pass rapidly from century to century. 
Look at the world, then, a hundred years after the 
seal of Nicholas had been affixed to the instrument 
which called your College into existence. We find 
Europe, we find Scotland especially, in the agonies 
of that great revolution which we emphatically call 
the Reformation. The liberal patronage which 
Nicholas, and men like Nicholas, had given to learn- 
ing, and of which the establishment of this seat of 
learning is not the least remarkable instance, had 
produced an effect which they had never contem- 
plated. Ignorance was the talisman on which their 
power depended, and that tahsman they had them- 
selves broken. They had called in knowledge as a 
handmaid to decorate superstition, and their error 
produced its natural effect. I need not tell you what 
a part the votaries of classical learning, and especially 
the Greek learning, the Humanists, as they were 
then called, bore in the great movement against 
spiiitual tyranny. They formed, in fact, the vanguard 
of that movement. Every one of the chief Reformers 
— I do not at this moment remember a single excep- 
tion — was a Humanist. Almost every eminent 
Humanist in the north of Europe was, according to 
the measm'e of his uprightness and courage, a Re- 
former. In a Scottish University I need hardly 


mention the names of Knox, of Buchanan, of Mel- 
ville, of Secretary Maitland. In truth, minds daily- 
nourished with the best hterature of Greece and 
Rome necessarily grew too strong to be trammelled 
by the cobwebs of the scholastic divinity ; and the 
influence of such minds was now rapidly felt by the 
whole community ; for the invention of printing had 
brought books within the reach even of yeomen and 
of artizans. From the Mediterranean to the Frozen 
Sea, therefore, the pubHc mind was everywhere in a 
ferment ; and nowhere was the ferment greater than 
in Scotland. It was in the midst of martyrdoms and 
proscriptions, in the midst of a war between power 
and truth, that the first century of the existence of 
yom' University closed. 

Pass another hundred years, and we are in the 
midst of another revolution. The war between 
Popery and Protestantism had, in this island, been 
terminated by the victory of Protestantism. But 
from that war another war had sprung, the war be- 
tween Prelacy and Puritanism. The hostile rehgious 
sects were allied, intermingled, confounded with 
hostile political parties. The monarchical element 
of the constitution was an object of almost exclusive 
devotion to the Prelatist. The popular element of 
the constitution was especially deai* to the Puritan. 
At length an appeal was made to the sword. Puri- 
tanism triumphed ; but Puritanism was abeady 
divided against itself: Independency and Republi- 
canism were on one side, Presbyterianism and Hmited 
Monarchy on the other. It was in the very darkest 


part of that dark time, it was in the midst of battles, 
sieges, and executions, it was when the whole world 
was stni aghast at the awful spectacle of a British 
king standing before a judgment seat, and laying his 
neck on a block, it was when the mangled remains 
of the Duke of Hamilton had just been laid in the 
tomb of his house, it was when the head of the 
Marquis of Montrose had just been fixed on the 
Tolbooth of Edinburgh, that your University com- 
pleted her second century. 

A hundred years more, and we have at length 
reached the beginning of a happier period. Our 
civil and religious hberties had indeed been bought 
with a fearful price. But they had been bought. 
The price had been paid. The last battle had been 
fought on British ground. The last black scaffold 
had been set up on Tower Hill. The evil days were 
over. A bright and tranquil century, a century of 
religious toleration, of domestic peace, of temperate 
freedom, of equal justice, was beginning. That cen- 
tury is now closing. When we compare it with any 
equally long period in the history of any other great 
society, we shall find abundant cause for thankfiilness 
to the Giver of all good. Nor is there any place in 
the whole kingdom better fitted to excite this feeling 
than the place where we are now assembled. For in 
the whole kingdom we shall find no district in which 
the progress of trade, of manufactm-es, of wealth, and 
of the arts of life, has been more rapid than in 
Clydesdale. Your University has partaken largely 
of the prosperity of this city and of the surrounding 


region. The security, the tranquilHty, the hberty, 
which have been propitious to the industry of the 
merchant, and of the manufacturer, have been also 
propitious to the industry of the scholar. To the 
last century belong most of the names of which you 
justly boast. The time would fail me if I attempted 
to do justice to the memory of all the illustrious 
men who, during that period, taught or learned wis- 
dom within these ancient walls ; geometricians, ana- 
tomists, jurists, philologists, metaphysicians, poets ; 
Simson and Hunter, Millar and Young, Reid and 
Stewart ; Campbell, whose coffin was lately borne to 
a grave in that renowned transept which contains 
the dust of Chaucer, of Spenser, and of Dryden ; 
Black, whose discoveries form an era in the history 
of chemical science ; Adam Smith, the greatest of all 
the masters of political science ; James Watt, who 
perhaps did more than any single man has done, 
since the New Atlantis of Bacon was written, to 
aceomphsh that glorious prophecy. We now speak 
the language of humility when we say that the 
University of Glasgow need not fear a comparison 
with the University of Bologna. 

Another secular period is now about to commence. 
There is no lack of alarmists, who will teU you that 
it is about to commence under evil auspices. But 
from me you must expect no such gloomy prognosti- 
cations. I have heard them too long and too con- 
stantly to be scared by them. Ever since I began 
to make observations on the state of my country, I 
have been seeing nothing but growth, and hearing 


of nothing but decay. The more I contemplate our 
noble mstitutions, the more convinced I am that 
they are sound at heart, that they have nothing of 
age but its dignity, and that their strength is still 
the strength of youth. The hurricane which has 
recently overthrown so much that was great, and 
that seemed durable, has only proved their solidity. 
They still stand, august and immovable, while dynas- 
ties and churches are lying in heaps of ruin all around 
us, I see no reason to doubt that, by the blessing 
of God on a wise and temperate poHcy, on a poHcy 
of which the principle is to preserve what is good by 
reforming in time what is evil, our civil institutions 
may be preserved unimpaired to a late posterity, and 
that, under the shade of our civil institutions, our 
academical institutions may long continue to flom*ish. 
I trust, therefore, that, when a hundred years 
more have run out, this ancient College wiU still 
continue to deserve well of our country and of man- 
kind. I trust that the installation of 1949 will be 
attended by a still greater assemblage of students 
than I have the happiness now to see before me. 
That assemblage indeed may not meet in the place 
where we have met. These venerable halls may have 
disappeared. My successor may speak to your suc- 
cessors in a more stately edifice, in an edifice which, 
even among the magnificent buildings of the future 
Grlasgow, will still be admired as a fine specimen of 
the architecture which flourished in the days of the 
good Queen Victoria. But though the site and the 
walls may be new, the spirit of the institution Avdll, 


I hope, be still the same. My successor will, I hope, 
be able to boast that the fifth century of the Uni- 
versity has been even more glorious than the fourth. 
He will be able to vindicate that boast by citing a 
long Hst of eminent men, great masters of experi- 
mental science, of ancient learning, of our native 
eloquence, ornaments of the senate, the pulpit, and 
the bar. He will, I hope, mention with high honour 
some of my young friends who now hear me ; and he 
will, I also hope, be able to add that their talents 
and learning were not wasted on selfish or ignoble 
objects, but were employed to promote the physical 
and moral good of their species, to extend the empire 
of man over the material world, to defend the cause 
of civil and religious liberty against tjTants and 
bigots, and to defend the cause of virtue and order 
against the enemies of all divine and human laws. 

I have now given utterance to a part, and a part 
only, of the recollections and anticipations of which, 
on this solemn occasion, my mind is full. I again 
thank you for the honom' which you have bestowed 
on me ; and I assure you that, while I live, I shall 
never cease to take a deep interest in the welfare and 
fame of the body with which, by your kindness, I 
have this day become connected. 






Delivered July 21, 1835. 

I AM sure there never were thanks worse earned, 
or, I may say, more superfluously bestowed, than 
those which your most worthy president and my 
respected friend, Mr. Heywood, has just been pleased 
to return to me for coming here this evening ; when 
I ought really to render my thanks to you for the 
very high gratification I have received since I came 
within these walls. 1 need hardly tell you that I 
have taken an active, a very humble part certainly, 
but still a warm interest in the estabhshment of 
institutions of this and a similar description, — for 
this differs from many, in some respects exceeds them, 
in others, perhaps, falls short, — and I do assure you 
that in some particulars this very greatly, or I will 
say considerably, for one ought not to exaggerate at 
all, even upon occasions hke the present of mutual 
congratulation, but I will say it very considerably 


exceeds any other in the country, and I beheve I 
know the whole of them which have bfeen created 
from the year 1824, when they were first estabhshed 
in England, down to the present time. I think that 
in many important particulars this institution does 
very considerably excel any other with which I am 
acquainted, and therefore I may venture to say, any 
now estabhshed. In the first place, it has a greater 
number of constant subscribers and regular attend- 
ants ; in the next place it is fully as well lodged as 
any, and better than any other with one exception, I 
mean the institution in London, of which it does not 
fall short in any material respect. The lecture 
theatre is somewhat less ; but still, as the present 
assembly shows, it is capable of accommodating with- 
out inconvenience a very large number. From a 
rough estimate I have made in casting my eye 
around (and I dare say some of those boys we have 
just heai'd, are better able to make one than I am), 
I should say that there are not less present than 
from 1,100 to 1,200 persons altogether, — I should 
guess, from my habit of seeing large numbers of 
people, that there are from 1,150 to 1,180 persons 
present, and yet nobody really feels any inconveni- 
ence from so large a body of persons within this 
space, I have not yet had an opportunity of seeing 
the Hbrary ; but I have run my eye over the cata- 
logue : it seems well chosen, and not inconsiderable 
in extent and in variety. I beheve also that there 
is apparatus for carrying on difierent lectures with 
scientific experiments. But in one particular, and 


that a most important one, it excels every other in- 
stitution, with the exception of that in London, and 
with that it comes on a level, — I mean in the regular 
attendance of the classes and schools ; and with the 
exception of that one shortcoming which I am about 
to mention presently, the attendance of the schools 
appears to be excellent, and if the specimen we have 
had to-night may be taken, I should say it is, as re- 
gards the youngest portion of the boys, undoubtedly 
very superior in point of proficiency. Now, the arith- 
metic is most perfect ; I cannot conceive anything 
better than the proficiency of the boys generally. I 
take it for granted that they are selected ; I assume 
them to be the best in the school, — if they were an 
average it would indeed be very marvellous, — but 
there were two of those boys than whom none could 
be more ready calculators ; and the bulk of them went 
through, in a longer or shorter time, the different 
sums with great abihty. I may gather this from 
my own short experience ; for of the many sums 
there were not above two which I did myself in my 
own mind as quickly as the bulk : and only one which 
I did as suddenly as those two boys. They had the 
benefit of the slates, it is true ; but I had greater 
experience and longer practice. With the exception 
of one instance, I never knew boys so quick, — and I 
compare them with exhibitions of a similar nature in 
our central Borough Road School, and imdoubtedly 
there they do these questions without slates ; but I 
don't say this as a disparagement ; for if taught the 
knack, a boy will learn just as easily to do them 


without as with the slate, and therefore I lay that 
out of view. Doing sums as quickly as these boys 
do with the slate, imphes as great an effort of the 
mind, and must be done as much by a mental pro- 
cess, as if the boys had no slates in their hands. 
These boys certainly are equal to those very ex- 
traordinary exhibitions which every one has lately 
witnessed in the London Borough Road School. 
Whether they have gone on equally well in geography 
I have not had an opportunity of learning. If the 
time had permitted, I should have liked to see what 
progress they had made in that important study, which 
is as entertaining as it is useful. As to the reading, 
it was very good. I can only say that I detected 
but one error ; the boy read " that which " instead of 
" that which ;" but there was no error in pronuncia- 
tion, or anything that could indicate that he had fallen 
into the plan of reading by rote, or did not under- 
stand w^hat he was reading. My great satisfaction 
is to perceive that these boys are taught to reflect 
and reason to a certain degree upon what they pass 
over with their eye, or on what passes through the 
ear as another reads. That was remarkable in the 
examination which Mr. M'DougaU made after the 
boy had finished reading the page. There are two 
systems which ought always to be set in view in 
teaching ; shunning the one, setting it up as a beacon 
to be avoided, and placing the other before you as a 
light to du'ect your course into the harbom* of know- 
ledge ; the parrot system to be avoided as the rock, 
the beacon, and the shoal ; and the intellectual sys- 



tern, the reasonable, rational system, to be steadily 
pursued and substituted for the former. And there 
is no greater error committed than that of those 
teachers who make a great display of boys' memories, 
exercising that faculty only, by means of which they 
may make very aecomphshed parrots with a great deal , 

of trouble and waste of time ; but " quickly come, hghtly ' 

go ;" that which they learn so easily they lose shortly, | 

and even while they retain it, find it of no use what- 
ever ; for it does not imbue their muid or penetrate 
their faculties. I have some reason to beheve that 
it is a shoal which lies pecuHarly on the course of 
teachers by the new, or Lancasterian, or Bell, or 
national system, called by some the British, and some 
the Madras system ; but whether invented b^^ Bell 
or Lancaster I stop not to inquire. Both were very | 

great benefactoi's to mankind; and which invented j 

it, is not very material to our present purpose, as ' 

neither is here to take out a patent ; but I will call i 

it the New and Cheap system of instruction ; and I ! 

often find that, as the scholars learn very quickly by [ 

it, they are apt to forget as swiftly — nay, that they i 

often learn merely by rote ; the consequence of which j 

is, that those at the head of such estabhshments I 

have of late taken great pains, and I am glad to find , 

most successfully, to avoid that rock. Accordingly, | 

they who go to the Borough Eoad School, instead of ■ 

learning by rote, learn by thoroughly understanding 
the subject ; they learn notliing for which they can- , 

not give a reason, of which they cannot render an 
account, and explain the foundation and principles. 


as well as execute on the spot and at a call. The 
consequence of this plan is a true mstruction of the 
right sort ; and I mention with pleasure, that these 
boys appear to be educated by Mr. M'Dougall in 
that coui'se, than which nothing can be more satis- 
factory. Having said this, I shall trespass a little 
further on your patience ; and, in consequence of my 
always dealing with this subject as often as I have 
an opportunity, I shall offer a few remarks on the 
shortcoming in this institution to which I have 
alluded, and which I really think might, in the course 
of a short time, be supphed. It is far more profitable, 
on occasions like this, to point out defects than merits. 
This converts such meetings into the means of im- 
provement, instead of mere ceremonies or excuses for 
idle speech-making. Now, nothing can be more gra- 
tifying than the number of your members, nearly 
1,400 individuals actually subscribing and placing at 
the disposal of the directors a fund quite sufficient to 
bear the current expenses without involving the in- 
stitution in debt and difficulty; and also to obtain 
not only an increase from time to time in the library 
and other parts of the estabhshment, but the aid of 
various skilful lecturers. But the next question that 
arose with me was, of course, — to what class of the 
community those 1,300 or 1,400 members belonged ; 
and no doubt I was a httle disappointed to find that, 
— though nothing can be more useM or more im- 
portant than that those respectable classes, of which 
the bulk of the community consists, should belong 
to such an institution, and should gain therefrom the 


inestimable benefits of knowledge in letters and in 
science, and should also reap the pleasure of social 
intercourse of the most harmless, nav, of the most 
beneficial chai*acter, and thus be kept out of evil 
habits, and have their intellectual faculties whetted, 
their industry excited, and their exertions stimulated, 
by mutual intercourse and social study, — though 
nothing can be more important than this, and though 
this w^ill in the end provide a remedy for the defect 
which I am about to take notice of, — I still cannot 
avoid feehng that if there was an addition to, — I 
won't say a body placed instead of, but one added to 
— the 1,400 members of the institution, for I would 
not have one single individual less of those ; but if, 
in addition to those, there were 200 or 300 to begin 
with those of another class, of which but a small pro- 
portion belongs at present to this institution — I mean 
artizans and common mechanics of the ingenious and 
working classes of this town, — I would not have them 
displace any of those who are now members — there 
is room enough for all, — but onl}' if they should be 
added to those superior classes which now belong to 
the institution, I am sm'e that the improvement 
would be prodigious. I hold it to be perfectly cer- 
tain, that it is the common interest of both masters 
and men, of both you and me, — of you who belong 
to the higher industrious class to which I belong, 
and not to that of common artizans, every one of 
whom may in this country, by knowledge and skill, 
rise to the situations which we are in, who are in the 
same country with them, and runninsf the same race 


of competition, each in our several branches, and only 
for the present removed a little in circumstances into 
an easier station than theirs, they being as capable 
of obtaining that station themselves, — I say nothing 
can be more important for them and for us, than 
that they should learn the knowledge which we have 
learned, and are still learning and extending. This 
is of the utmost importance to be impressed upon 
their minds and yours ; it is a lesson which ought 
never to be erased from their recollection. I have 
been told — and in saying this, I seek to pay no com- 
pliment to Manchester because I happen to be in it 
— for I would rather speak truths unpalatable than 
pleasing phrases, things fine to hear but useless to 
know — but I hear, and I indeed know it of my own 
knowledge, that in Manchester the artizans, the 
mechanics, though as honest men, of as independent 
habits, of as excellent understanding, of as great in- 
dustry, and in their own arts of as consummate skill, 
as any human beings in any manufacturing town, or 
in any other place, be that place what or where it 
may — yet that they are not sufficiently penetrated 
and imbued in their minds, dispositions, and tastes, 
with the love of scientific knowledge and useful learn- 
ing, to seek opportunities of learning the principles 
even of those arts in which they are engaged. There 
are, doubtless, exceptions ; great and creditable ex- 
ceptions this institution itself affords ; but they are 
few in number compared with the great bulk of the 
industry, intelligence, and skill which exists in Man- 
chester ; the others do not flock to this Hall, when 


its doors ai-e open to receive tliem all ; when, at a 
very moderate cost, they might reap the benefits of 
it, and obtain the dehghts and the advantages of in- 
struction and of social intercourse within its walls. 
And when I say the advantages of instruction, I 
am speaking a plain practical proposition. I am 
not merely talking of the accomphshment of learn- 
ing and its pleasures, great though they be, but of 
the positive utility of it, to each of them in his 
own separate case. Who, for instance, can doubt 
that it would be of the greatest use to a common 
mechanic, engaged in the manufacture of tools and 
engines, at one of those magnificent estabhshments 
with which, at my last visit here, I was so delighted, 
through the kindness of then' excellent owners — who 
can doubt that it would be of the greatest benefit to 
the workmen there, and still more to those employed 
in the manufacture of steam-engiues, and various 
other useful and comphcated machinery, in this town 
— who can doubt that it would be of the utmost 
possible practical use to them in their several trades, 
to know the principles upon which those engines are 
constructed, by becoming acquainted with so much 
chemistry, for example, as may teach them the natm'e 
and properties of steam, of refrigeration and expansion, 
of the manner in which heat works and cold operates, 
and learning as much mechanical science as may ex- 
plain the grounds of the various mechanical contriv- 
ances which that engine exhibits ? I say it is of 
positive use and actual profit to them to know these 
things. At present they put up the cylinder, they 


fit the piston into its place, and adjust that exquisite 
contrivance of Watt, the parallel motion ; but they 
do these things mechanically, by rote, and according 
to the parrot system, which I have lately said a word 
about in reference to boys. The boys here, indeed, 
can tell the steps by which they arrive at the answers 
to the questions given them, and upon that page of 
reading they could give you reasons and illustrations 
connected with the various parts which formed the 
passage which their young neighbour and friend read. 
But these mechanics know that the rod cannot work 
sweet and smooth in the cylinder miless perfect per- 
pendicularity be always preserved, and that this per- 
pendicularity is gained and kept by means of a certain 
combination of iron rods and hinges, which they have 
learned to call the " parallel motion," without even 
knowing why it is so called ; and how it operates, 
and upon what principles that perpendicularity is 
secured, they have never yet learned ; and yet that 
branch of mechanics, though connected with some 
refinement certamly, may be brought to the level of 
the student's capacity, with little or no mathematical 
learning. One should think they would be all the 
better workmen if they knew not only that they 
were to go on in a certain line, but why they were 
to do so ; that they were not only not to deviate to 
the one hand or to the other, but why there would 
be danger if they did. At all events, I say, these 
things are very just objects of curiosity, and that 
men might naturally feel desirous to know about the 
things which they are every day practising. Just 


in the same way they might naturally desire to know- 
why, upon a certain jet of water being admitted into 
the cyhnder, down comes the piston ; how it happens 
that a vacuum makes it descend, and how the steam 
pressure from above accelerates the descent. They 
would surely make it all the better for knowing the 
principles upon which it acts. And is it not a natural 
object of curiosity to men whose whole lives are passed 
in causing this operation, to inquire upon what prin- 
ciples of science it is that it was invented by one of 
the most profoundlj^ scientific men that ever lived to 
adorn this country ? I should think that such in- 
formation would be a pleasant relaxation to the mind 
in the intervals of labour. Can any one doubt that a 
dyer would lind himself more comfortable if he studied 
a little of the nature of mordants — if he knew why 
dyed cloth in certain case# took the colour, and in 
other cases rejected it — if he knew, for example, upon 
what principles that ingenious invention of scarlet 
dyes operated, which was imported into this country 
by my friend Mr. Thompson, who obtained a patent 
for it, the invention of an able French chemist? 
But it is very odd, the operative dyer goes on dyeing 
all his life, — making his arms light blue and his 
clothes dark blue, without knowing, any more than 
the hog that feeds in the trough by his side, the 
principles upon which his ingenious and useful art is 
founded. I might run through a variety of instances 
of the like sort. I take it for granted that no per- 
son tries to make optical instruments, even an ap- 
prentice, who does not know something of optics ; 


and yet I should be apt to say that those who do 
not come here do not know much more than enables 
them to grind glasses mto the convex or plano-convex 
shape that the instrument in hand may happen to 
require. But would it not be much better if they 
knew the laws which regulate the dispersion as well 
as the refraction of hght — (of refraction, perhaps, 
they do know a little) — of the laws which regulate 
the making of achromatic glasses, so called because 
they give no colour ; of the way m which crown and 
flint glasses being of several dispersive powers, the 
action of the one corrects that of the other ? And 
if they also rose a little higher in their views, there 
would be no harm done — if they ascended so as to 
discover that the most perfect of all optical instru- 
ments, the eye, is formed precisely upon the same 
principle on which Mr. Dollond formed his first 
achromatic glasses, and upon which Dr. Blair after- 
wards suggested an improvement, which, I beheve, 
has never yet been much used in practice. It would 
be a solace to him, it would strengthen his religious 
belief, it would make him a better and a happier, as 
well as a wiser man, if he soared a little into those 
regions of purer science where happily neither doubt 
can cloud, nor passion ruffle our serene path. These 
things are all so obvious that one really ought to 
apologize for reminding you of them ; but it is not 
you, it is rather others who are not here, that I 
would remind through you of these things. They 
know that I can have no interest but their good, in 
wishing them to consider what pure and elevated 


pleasure might be enjoyed by them, if they would 
come and drink at the fountain of science open to 
every one here, and seek instruction under its great- 
est masters. When I say that such knowledge is of 
practical use, I might go a step farther. Those men 
who are daily employed in handluig tools, working 
amongst the very elements of mechanical science, or 
always using mixtures of chemical drugs in a me- 
chanical way (I here use the word " mechanical " in 
its bad sense, — meaning without knowledge, by rote) 
— those who, making and using pulleys, see that one 
pulley being fixed gives no increase of power, but 
only changes the direction of the force, while another 
unfixed pulley greatly multiplies the power ; but who 
only see and don't know why it is so, and have their 
information only by rote, — those men are amongst 
the very persons whose situation is the best adapted 
in the whole world for actually making discoveries 
and inventing improvements. They are in the way 
of good luck ; for there is great luck in even scientific 
discoveries, and there is more in mechanical inven- 
tions ; and these men are always in the way of it. 
They are continually using agents applied to practical 
purposes ; and they have opportunities of striking 
out new ideas which, for aught they know, may lead j 

to the discoveries of the philosopher, or the improve- | 

ments and inventions of the mechanician. What did 
Mr. Watt do more ? — that man to whom we owe 
the greatest revolution, morally speaking, of modem 
times, — I mean that which subdued steam to the 
use of man, by his improvements upon the old en- 


gines of Worcester and Newcomen. Far be it from 
me to undervalue the great step of the vacuum, made 
by Newcomen ; but all was in vain for practical use, 
till the discoveries of Watt gave a new aspect to the 
machine. He is therefore the real inventor, and may 
be said to be the second father, of the steam engine ; 
and it is to him we owe all the wealth, the increased 
power, and the extended comfort, which we now 
have from the great engine, which actually annihi- 
lates distance between place and place, and, as I yes- 
terday told my friends at • Liverpool, brings Man- 
chester, though thirty miles inland, close to its great 
seaport and outlet, Liverpool. Watt himself was 
one of that class of workmen which I am now ad- 
dressing ; and if he had gone on making mathema- 
tical instruments without ever studying the principles 
of science upon which they are constructed, he never 
would have achieved any one of those splendid in- 
ventions which gave such celebrity to his name, such 
fortune to his family (though far from equal to his 
prodigious deserts), and such an increase to the 
power and the happiness of mankind. He would 
have gone on to his grave working at the rate of 
30s. or 40s. a-week, without ever having raised his 
own name, or adorned his species, or improved the 
condition of mankind, in the marvellous manner, and 
to the boundless extent, w^hich he was enabled to do, 
solely by his scientific education and philosophic 
studies. Why, then, I place Watt as a model before 
all working mechanics. They may not have his 
genius, but they may all have as much industry as 


he had, and gain as much learnmg. It is their own 
fault, therefore, if they don't rise out of their level, 
and obtain the chances of making discoveries which 
would secm'e them the gifts of affluence, and bestow 
on them a share in the greatest glory at which man 
can arrive, the renown of extending the boundaries 
of science and art. Totally independent of that, 
they might be much happier men, much more useful 
men, and much more profitable workmen, both for 
themselves and others. And, after all, what sacrifice 
would they make for it ?• Why, men receiving 30s., 
35s., or 40s. a-week, would have to sacrifice how 
much ? Not 6d. a-week, for the subscription is only 
20s. a-year, to obtain all the benefits, and reap all 
the enjoyments, of this excellent institution. Sup- 
pose it were even 26s. a-year, or 6d. a-week, why it 
is only that they should consume so much less beer 
or meat, and the diminution is so httle in amount, 
that they would hardly feel at the week's end that 
they had made the sacrifice. I know they ought to 
do a great deal more than that ; and unless they do 
it, I also know they can never be the happy men 
which their talents and skill, and the prosperous and 
flourishing situation of this great city, entitle them 
to be. If they, with large wages, have not learned 
another lesson, beside saving sixpence a-week for 
learning, they have but learned half their duties. 
They ought to do as we lawyers, physicians, and 
others have always to do ; they ought to lay by for 
a bad day. I know that this is not a very popular 
doctiine ; but if they do not hear it and practise it. 


they won't be Yerj respectable men. Eveiy man is 
bound to do so as a bare act of justice to himself, 
and to make him an independent man, without which 
he does not deserve to be called a man at all, much 
less the citizen of a free state. He ought to look to 
himself and his savings, and not trust to that most 
odious, mean, and despicable of resources, the parish 
fund, in case of a bad day. Suppose when I was at 
the bar, toiling my way up, as you are doing now, to 
independence, that I had hved up to every farthing 
of my income, as these men spend their 40s. a- week, 
— I speak of some of them only who spend the whole 
of the 40s, they earn every week, and never have 
anything in case of a fall of wages, or being thrown 
out of employment, or sickness, — if I, or those 
whom I used to associate with at the bar, had done 
that, — then there comes a broken limb or a bad 
season for business, when people are wiser than they 
generally are, and therefore don't go to law — or when 
they are poorer, and cannot afford that very expen- 
sive luxmy, — supposing a person is ill for six months ; 
what is he to do ? All men of business know that 
it is their bounden duty to lay by for such accidents, 
from which the ablest, best, and strongest men are 
not at all exempt. And why should these workmen 
not do the same thing ? But I have been drawn 
from my course by this important subject. From 
the nature of this place, one is apt to get lecturing a 
little, and I was lecturing on the propriety of laying 
by only 4d. or 6d. a-week, for the purpose of possess- 
ing the benefits of this admirable, useful, and most 


gratifying institution. I can conceive people having 
some excuse elsewhere for not coming to lectures 
and enjopng them ; but when I hear so admirable a 
report as was made to-night by your worthy and 
able secretary, when it appears that you have not 
only those able men by whose advice the workmen 
flocking hither might benefit, but when you have 
such lecturers as those whose names we have heard 
to-night, — when, above all, there is in this very town, 
at this moment, happily preserved to us, — and I hope 
to Grod he long may be, — the very greatest chemical 
philosopher of the present day, — known all over 
Europe and all over the world, — I mean Dr. Dalton, 
— why, what a proof is here how people neglect 
things within their power, and which they would be 
grasping at and panting after, if they were but re- 
moved beyond their reach ! I met an old and worthy 
friend of mine, a man of great abihty and learning 
also, your townsman. Dr. Henry, to-day. We were 
fellow-collegians, and learned chemistry together, — 
though God wot he leai-ned a great deal more than 
I did ; and we both agreed, while conversing at Mr. 
Hey wood's, that nothing had given each of us so 
much pleasure (both had often thought of the same 
thing, and we communicated om' sentiments upon 
meeting), as the happy cii'cumstance of having hved 
in time to attend the course of lectures given by the 
greatest improver of chemistry in his day, I mean 
Dr. Black, the discoverer of latent heat, of fixed air, 
of the natm'e of the mild and the caustic earths, as 
connected with that air's absorption, and who may 


literally be said to be the father of modem pneumatic 
chemistry. We had the happiness of di'inking in 
om- knowledge of chemistry at that pm-e and exalted 
som-ce, by attending the last lectures of that great 
man. Now, suppose anybody had told us when we 
got to Edinbm-gh (I Hved there, but Dr. Henry 
came from a distance), " Oh, you are a year too late. 
If you had only come the year before, you would have 
been in time to hear the last course of lectures, im- 
pressively and gracefully dehvered, by that great 
man." We should have wrung our hands and declared 
that we could not tell that ; that we did not know 
he was so old ; that we would have given up any 
engagement, made any sacrifice, to have heard him. 
But suppose that we had lived in the same town to 
the age of thirty, and had never thought of going to 
Dr. Black ; suppose that he in the com'se of nature 
had paid its debt and died, and that we had then 
read the hfe of Dr. Black, as the great ornament of 
the city of Edinbm'gh, as the most illustrious che- 
mical philosopher of his day, as the founder of the 
new system of chemistry, as a man whose discoveries 
had altered the face of the scientific world in that 
great department of knowledge ; we should have said, 
" Bless us, is it possible that we should have Hved 
ten or fifteen years here since we reached the age of 
discretion, and never have thought of going to that 
man's class — never have thought of paying our two 
or three guineas for the benefit, nay the glory of 
learning under that most illustrious of all chemists?" 
We should certainly have been extremely to blame. 


very much to be pitied, not a little to be despised, 
for having allowed so many years to pass, with the 
doors of the lecture-room open to us, and yet never 
hearing this celebrated philosophical teacher. There 
is now Hving in this town, and, from his love of 
science, volunteering to give five or six lectures in 
the course of the season, a chemical philosopher who 
has made the greatest discover}^ since the decomposi- 
tion of the fixed alkalies, and which in all hkehhood 
will be the root of still greater discoveries in chemical 
science, enabhng us, as I firmly believe, to trace the 
connecting links in that chain which separates the 
mechanical from the chemical kingdom of science, 
and supplying that long wanted desideratum of the 
step which unites the two, — we have that very indi- 
vidual existing, lecturing, in this place ; and in the 
course of time — (distant may the change be!) — he 
must cease to lecture and to exist. I don't beheve 
there will be one man who has failed to avail himself 
of the opportunity of hearing the lectures of that 
eminent philosopher and discoverer, who will not then 
upbraid and despise himself, and feel a kind of remorse 
at the sin of omission he ^vill have been guilty of. 
G-racious me ! to have lived in this town, and never 
gone to hear the principles of chemistry explained 
by the great discoverer of Definite Proportions ! 
That is the sort of feehng which a person will excite 
in others ; and, if he is worthy of being compassion- 
ated, it is the sort of feeling that will arise in his own 
breast, upon making the humbling reflection when it 
is too late. In this matter I at least wash mv hands 


of all blame ; and no one will have any ground for 
saying 1 did not give him timely warning. Now, 
my observations are addressed not merely to the 
mechanics who don't come and learn these things, 
and who might by their coming extend our numbers 
— (I call it " our," for we are all engaged in the 
same common cause) — who do not avail themselves 
of such precious opportunities ; but I would remind 
you also, and others through you, that those things 
which I have mentioned, because they appear to be 
suited to the present occasion, ought to sink deep 
into the minds of the considerate and right-thinking 
of all classes. I am sure I should do a very useless 
thing, if I were here to enlarge upon the benefits of 
education. They are admitted by all, even by those 
who formerly sneered at them. Some people tell us 
that " education won't fill people's bellies," and trash 
of that sort. Why, they might just as well complain 
of the baker or the butcher, because with their beef 
or bread they don't fill people's minds. But every 
one knows that " man lives not by bread alone," — 
that knowledge leads to skill, that skill leads to use- 
ful and lucrative occupation, and that the gain derived 
from lucrative occupation enables men to get the 
staff of this mortal life, after getting the staff of that 
immortal life which improves and strengthens his 
better part — his mind. Therefore it is not true to 
say that learning does not fill people's bellies, as some 
grossly and stupidly say ; for it puts the staff of 
common animal life within our reach ; so the bread 
and beef got through its means ultimately tend to 



support the mind, inasmuch as, without the support 
of the animal part, the incoi*poreal portion of our 
nature would have but a smaU chance of surviving. 
But now, whatever improves men's minds tends to 
give them sober and virtuous habits ; and with the 
knowledge of the community, clear I am that virtue 
is assuredly certain to be promoted ; and I am quite 
confident that, with the knowledge of men, the rights i 

of men — I mean their indefeasible rights of every , 

kind, the rights which they have to civil liberty and 
to rehgious hberty, the greatest of earthly and social 
blessings, — are sure to be infinitely promoted; nor 
do I know of any more certain mode of reforming a 
country, any better way of redressing her grievances, i 

than giving education to her people. I know that I 

I am now addressing myself to those who hold various 
opinions on these matters, to some who difier from j 

me in opinion. I have my own opinions ; they have 
theirs ; I shall certainly not give up mine ; they may i 

keep theh's ; perhaps they may come round in time ] 

to mine ; unless I am favom^ed with some new hght ! 

I assuredly won't go to them ; but I say that all j 

poHtical, or, to avoid the use of the word pohtics, aU 
social reforms, are never so sure to be obtained, and 
never so safely obtained, as when the people amongst 
whom they are in vogue, and bear a high price, with I 

whom they are in great estimation and much pursuit, 
— as when that people is well educated ; because the 
better educated a people are in all their branches, so 
much the more tranquO, peaceful, and orderly, in 
their poHtical conduct wiU they be. But I am not 


one of those who preach in favour of people being 
contented when they ought not to be contented. 
When they have grievances they ought to be discon- 
tented, and their discontent ought to boil as high as 
the law will allow, — not to explosive heat (to speak 
the language of the engineer), but higher than tem- 
perate heat, in order to make their grievances attended 
to, and so get them redressed. That is my doctrine. 
And when not redressed, the heat should increase, 
but always keeping under the regulation of the 
governor, if I may so speak — always under the control 
of the law, which is the governor, — and the governor 
being affected in the engine, as you know, by the heat 
below, even so the law is apt to be affected and made 
to give way and yield to the pressure of just demands 
acting upon it ; and as the heat in the engine, acting 
through the steam on the governor, communicates to 
it a centrifugal force, which again, when much aug- 
mented, compresses the vapour below, so hj the 
moral law does the governor affect the people, while 
he is in his turn very much affected by the people. 
Therefore, when I preach up contentment, it is onlj^ 
where the people ought to be contented, by being 
ruled as cheap as possible, and as well as possible ; 
but this I always shall hold, that their discontent 
should never exceed the bounds allowed by law. 
They should be firm, persevering, temperate, for theii- 
own sakes rather than for the sake of others, and 
should go on toward? their own purpose, neither 
looking to the right, neither to the left, till that 
legitimate purpose be accompHshed. But the more 


knowing they are, the more peaceable they will be ; 
and, in my judgment, the more clear-sighted they 
are upon the subject of their rights, the more steadily 
will they perform their duties. One word more be- 
fore I release you from what I have called this lecture 
of mine, — one word upon the manner in which learn- 
ing and improvement make their way in society. I 
think it must be admitted that it is always in one 
way, and that downwards. You begin by making 
the upper classes aware of the value of certain kinds 
of knowledge ; and though it constantly happens that 
the middle classes know a great deal more than their 
superiors, yet it is by the upper part of the middle 
class becoming aware of the exquisite pleasures of 
learning, and, above all, of scientific information, that 
the other parts of this class become impregnated with 
the same divine influence. Well, then, we teach, we 
impregnate this stratum, if I may so call it, — for 
society is something like a pyramid, having an ex- 
tensive base and tapering upwards, — the middle parts 
of the middle class get well acquainted with the sub- 
ject and feel its importance ; every now and then 
there springs up an enhghtened individual who says, 
" 1 have a good mind to endeavour to make this 
knowledge spread among the people below me who 
know less than I do," and by degrees he succeeds in 
this truly benevolent and philanthropic design. For I 
stop to observe that a man is not a philanthropist 
who throws away his money upon useless charity 
to multiply idlers in the land : he is truly a philan- 
thropist, he is truly charitable, who gives his money 


in such a way as to prevent his feUow-ereatures from 
wanting charity, from being reduced to the pitiable 
necessity of asking alms. A man who makes war 
upon the poor-house by keeping people out of it, he 
is a charitable man ; a man who makes war upon the 
gin-shop by teaching people that sobriety and know- 
ledge ai*e better than intoxication and ignorance, — a 
man who makes war upon the "rabble rout" of sedi- 
tious, immoral, and Hcentious persons, by reclaiming 
them from their evil habits, and improving them bv 
early education, especially by planting infants' schools, 
— he is a truly charitable man. And above all. a 
man who has bestowed his money, his time, and his 
exertions so as to make wai* upon the gaol, the gib- 
bet, the transport-ship and the tread-mill, by lessen- 
ing through instruction the number of victims sent 
for their crimes to these places, — that man is indeed 
charitable ; and the more he teaches his fellow-crea- 
tures, and refines their appetites, and removes them 
from low, sensual gratifications, the more charitable 
is that man. Therefore have I stopped to say what 
man is charitable, — not he who gives alms, or who 
subscribes to charities for the purpose of seeing his 
name enrolled among their benefactors, but such a 
man as I have depicted, one who not only is bene- 
volent, but beneficent, — one who both means well, 
and does good. Of such, then, there are many in the 
second order or stratum of the middle classes ; and 
they try, by then' exertions and their money, kindly 
apphed and judiciously bestowed, to spread. to the 
class below them, a little of the same feelmg, the 


same love of learning, which they possess themselves ; 
and so that lower class gets by degrees impregnated 
itself. Thus it goes to the class immediately below 
it, to the artizans, the skilful workmen, the class as 
respectable as any in the community from the duke 
down to the peasant. They might know a great deal 
more than they do ; they soon will know a great deal 
more than they now do. Well, they get the sugges- 
tions of those immediately above them. We, for 
instance, in this institution, can operate upon them ; 
and upon them it is our bounden duty, in my opinion, 
to operate till we carry them on in the course of 
knowledge, and impregnate them with that love of 
knowledge which is germain to this stratum and class 
above all others, and through this class, I hope, it 
will spread downwards till it reaches the very lowest 
description of the community. Then those veiy 
men, the artizans, we shall see endeavouring to in- 
struct the common daily field labourers, a class a 
thousand times lower in mental rank than skilful 
artizans, as for instance optical instrument makers, — 
infinitely inferior in all respects as to station and 
everything else, — much more the inferiors of the 
artizan than that artizan is of the proudest peer in 
the land. Those artizans having slaked their thirst 
at the fountain of knowledge, opened here by the 
lectures, by the Hbrary, and by social intercourse 
amongst the members, — having tasted the pleasures 
and gained the advantages of science, will endeavour 
even to become in their turn teachers, and to cany 
those benefits and hghts and enjoyments into the 


humblest class of the community, which now sits in 
the thickest darkness. 

I ought to apologize for having detained you so 
long ; but as you all know my motives, I can only 
express my great desire and readiness in any way to 
promote the interest of this admirable and now most 
flourishing institution. I have just cast my eye upon 
a page of the report which reminds me that there 
was a course of lectures upon Political Economy, 
which I was the means of procuring for you last 
season, and though in the report it is not stated that 
they were my lectures, it is mentioned so ambigu- 
ously, that you may very likely think I had written 
them and given you a copy. The real fact is I did 
no such thing, I did not write one lecture of the 
whole number. They were written by a friend, whose 
name I am not at Hberty to mention. What I did 
was to go eai'efully over them, to alter some parts, 
and here and there to add a sentence where I thought 
the meaning was not sufficiently brought out ; and I 
beheve all I wrote of them would go into less than 
five pages. The lectures were prepared at a time 
when I held the Great Seal, and therefore I could 
not give more attention than what was required 
slightly to correct them. It is no doubt true that I 
formerly recommended the plan of what I called 
anonymous lecturing. In 1824, the year the Me- 
chanics' Institution was established in London, I was 
awai'e of the difficulty of obtaining lecturers, and also 
aware how much lectures might be made available, 
provided we had them of a perfectly simple, intelli- 


gible, and plain description, containing the elements of 
science laid down in a way that would readily be com- 
prehended by imeducated men. All that then was 
wanted was a good and distinct reader ; and the plan 
I proposed at the time was this : — That lectures 
should be prepared, and that the first should be read 
on one day, and on the next meeting of the class the 
same lecture should be read a second time, together 
with half the second lecture, and then the following 
meeting that half a second time, with the latter half 
of the same lecture ; so that every lecture was read 
twice, giving the artizans time for discussion during 
the interval ; and when their minds were whetted by 
such discussion, it was repeated, and they also learned 
another bit. In those days we wanted lecturers ; so 
that it was necessary the lectures should be made 
plain enough to be given to any one who could merely 
read. !N^ow we have a better supply, for these insti- 
tutions have created not only a demand for lectures, 
but have also created lecturers, because many of those 
who have been taught in these institutions are now 
ready to become teachers. And no fruit which they 
have borne is more satisfactory to my mind than this. 
When I disclaim the authorship of those able lectures 
on Pohtical Economy, I do so only to renounce the 
credit which is not mine, and with no wish to under- 
value the useful labours of those who prepare lectures 
for the people. I have worked at this myself. In 
1825, I devoted the summer to preparing a course of 
lectures, which have been dehvered, ever since, many 
times over, in different parts of the kingdom, more in 


the south than in the north ; and no person I dare 
say knew who was the author ; nor do I intend to 
make it known. I don't think I have ever mentioned 
the circumstance before, and I do it now as a proof 
of the advantage of " anonymous lecturing." It has 
this great recommendation, that several persons may 
join in preparing a course, at a small trouble to each, 
every person contributing a lecture or two, if he 
cannot write a whole course. We are now going on 
in the same plan with various courses. I am taking 
part myself by preparing one course of twenty-four 
lectures : and I suppose that some of these courses 
will be ready for dehvery in three months. I don't 
mention who are the writers, nor what are the sub- 
jects, because it is my intention the authors should 
not be known ; but they will be ready for delivery 
under the patronage some of one useful society and 
some of another, in order to give them greater cur- 
rency. I have explained this for the purpose of 
adding, that if it should be your pleasure to benefit 
by this arrangement, in consequence of any want of 
lectures here, upon any of those subjects which are 
now in preparation, I hope and indeed think I shall 
have it in my power to help this institution to those 
particular courses. 

I beg leave once more to return you my best ac- 
knowledgments for the very kind reception I have 
met with amongst my fellow-citizens in this great 
town, and in this institution particularly ; and I shall 
have great pleasure in reporting to my coadjutors the 
prosperity of this institution, especially to Dr. Birk- 


beck — to whom more is due thau to all the rest of 
us together — who first devised the plan of giving 
lectures to artizans in the year 1800, at Grlasgow — 
(I have the prospectus in my possession of his first 
course) — a plan which was afterwards carried into 
execution in various parts of the kingdom ; he was 
also, I think, the originator of the London Institu- 
tion, though he had most able coadjutors, and I 
know his priority in this has been disputed ; but at 
any rate he advanced in its aid £4,000 or £5,000, 
which I am sorry to say he is not nearly repaid at 
this moment. — I shall have the utmost satisfaction 
in teUing him how this institution beats our London 
one in many important particulars, and that there 
are only one or two points in which it falls short. I 
know that nothing wiU give him greater satisfaction 
than to hear from me that the child has outstripped 
the parent. 






Delivered Wednesday, January 11, 1837. 


gladly avail myself of this opportunity of personally 
and publicly expressing the gratification which I de- 
rive from my appointment to the office on the duties 
of which I have just entered. I might have hesi- 
tated voluntarily to present myself as a candidate for 
that office, not from unbecoming indifference to the 
distinction which it confers, but partly from disin- 
clination to interfere with the pretensions of others, 
and partly from reluctance to add to the pressm'e of 
those duties, which in pubhc and private hfe I am 
called upon to perform. But when I received the 
imexpected intelligence that my election had actually 
taken place — had taken place under circumstances 
which had spared me the paLofulness of voluntary 
competition, and relieved me altogether from the 
anxieties and the asperities that are incident to con- 


test — I required no advice — I asked for no time to 
consider — I acted upon the impulse of feelings that 
were better counsellors than doubts and deliberation ; 
and I resolved at once to justify the generous confi- 
dence which had tendered me this high trust, and 
which must have anticipated my acceptance of it. I 
do accept it, grateful for the kindness which has 
conferred it, proud of the relation in which I stand 
to this venerable seat of learning, anxious to dis- 
charge with fidelity and zeal the duties which that 
relation may involve. And not merely those duties. 
If I can extend the sphere of usefulness beyond the 
proper functions of this office, if there be any other 
capacity in which my services can be made available, 
they shall be freely tendered for the protection of 
every just and useful privilege to which the Univer- 
sity can lay claim, and for the maintenance of its 
true and permanent interests. 

The state of this University, and of the other 
Universities of Scotland, has recently undergone 
visitation and inquiry by a commission, which owed 
its appointment to advice humbly tendered by me 
to the crown. 

Various suggestions have been offered in the report 
of that commission, concerning the revenues, the 
government, and the discipline of this Universit}^ ; 
and the intervention of Parliament will, I presume, 
be requisite in order to give effect to such of those 
suggestions as it shall be ultimately thought fitting 
to adopt. 

You wiU not expect from me at the very outset of 


my connection with the University, the declaration 
of a formed and positive opinion upon matters so 
intimately affecting its welfare. I should not mark 
my respect for you, — I should not justify the confi- 
dence you have reposed in me, were I to content 
myself with merely ascertaining the popular or pre- 
vailing opinion here, and promising a blind subscrip- 
tion to it, or were I to regard solely temporary in- 
terests, and pledge myself to their exclusive protec- 
tion. I shall better maintain the dignity of this 
office, I shall better consult your true interest, I 
shall more certainly secure your lasting favour, by 
exercising an impartial and independent judgment, 
by weighing maturely each suggestion of improve- 
ment, and the evidence or reasoning by which it is 
supported ; not merely regarding the abstract merits 
of the isolated proposal, but viewing it in reference 
to the whole scheme of academical education in 
Scotland, bearing in mind the connection of that 
scheme with the means of preHminary instruction, 
its adaptation to the state of manners and society in 
Scotland, its capacity for supplying those acquii'e- 
ments and that description of knowledge, which shall 
best insure the success and eminence of those for 
whom academical instruction is intended. Be as- 
sured, however, that I shall enter upon the consider- 
ation of these important matters with a strong pre- 
possession that, speaking generally, the system of 
academical education adopted in the Universities of 
Scotland, modified, as it gradually has been, according 
to the changes in the state of society, and the new 


demands for knowledge, is admii'ably adapted to the 
great ends for which it is designed. I see in it a 
system planned in conformity with the suggestion 
of Lord Bacon, that learning should be made sub- 
servient to action — a system that does not partake 
of a professional character — that embraces all dis- 
tinctions and classes of society — that quahfies those 
of the highest rank for the pubhc duties they will 
have to perform — that provides for men engaged in 
business, and even advanced in Ufe, the opportunity 
of ascei-taining the progressive discoveries in science, 
and the apphcability of those discoveries to their re- 
spective pursuits — that offers also to those whose 
pecuniary means are the most restricted, the benefits 
of an enhghtened education and the rewards of hter- 
ary distinction. Be assured, also, that I shall enter 
upon the consideration of such matters with a fiirm 
conviction that the relation iti which the Universities 
stand towards the Estabhshed Church of Scotland 
ought to be maintained with scrupulous fidehty. 

I should not be acting m conformity with the 
estabhshed usage of this University, I should still less 
be acting in unison with my own feelings, if I did not 
on this occasion address myself immediately to those 
who are pursuing their studies within these walls. 

Yes, let me who have not survived my sympathies 
with the feelings and aspirations of academic youth, 
who have drunk from the same pure spring from 
which you are allaying the thirst for knowledge, who 
have felt the glow of your emulation, and have 
panted like you for academic distinction — let me, 


after being engaged in the active scenes of public 
life, and buffeted by the storms and contentions of 
party, — let me bring the living testimony of practical 
experience to confirm the truth of those precepts, to 
enforce those exhortations which you hear from the 
higher authority of the distinguished men of whom 
your instruction is the immediate and pecuhar pro- 

Let me assure you, with all the earnestness of the 
deepest conviction, founded on the opportunities of 
observation which pubhc life and intercourse with 
the world have afforded, that your success, your 
emmence, your happiness, are much more independent 
of the accidents and caprices of fortune, infinitely 
more within your own control, than they appear to 
be to superficial observers. 

There Hes before you a boundless field of exertion. 
Whatever be your pursuit, whatever be the profession 
which you may choose, the avenues to honourable 
fame are widely open to you, or at least are obstructed 
by no barriers of which you may not command the 

Does the study of theology engage yom* attention ? 
Is the office of the sacred ministry to be your desti- 
nation ? To what nobler aim can you dedicate your 
faculties and acquirements than to vindicate the 
great principles of om- common faith, to defend them 
fi-om the assaults of infidehty, to establish them on 
the only foundation on which the spirit of free in- 
quiry will allow them to rest — the authority of 
scriptural truth ? But be not content with medio- 


crity. Aspire to that eminence which has been 
attained by the great preachers of other ages, the 
honoui'ed champions of the Protestant rehgion. 
Why should you despaii' of attaining it ? Bring to 
your sacred functions the spirit by which they were 
animated, treasure up the same stores of professional 
learning, make them available by the command of 
the same simphcity of style and energy of expression ; 
above all, enforce the precepts you inculcate by that 
highest argument, the pure example of your own 
lives, and despair not of exercising a moral influence 
hke that which they exercised, and founding a repu- 
tation lasting as theirs. In the commanding autho- 
rity of your station — in the frequent opportunities 
for the pubhc exertion of your powers — in the eager- 
ness with which men will listen to truths that con- 
cern their eternal interests, if they be but enforced 
(and they too frequently are not) with the same 
measure of earnestness, of abihty, and of eloquence 
with which their worldly interests are defended, in 
these things you will find all that can satisfy the 
highest ambition for honourable fame. 

Is science your pursuit? "The great ocean of 
truth," to quote the expression of Newton, "the 
great ocean of truth " lies expanded before you. " I 
do not know," said he, at the close of his illustrious 
career, "what I may appear to the world, but to 
myself I seem to have been only hke a boy playing 
on the sea-shore, finding sometimes a brighter pebble 
or a smoother shell than ordinary, while the great 
ocean of truth lay aU undiscovered before me." 


Each subsequent advance in science has served not 
to contract the field of inquiry, but to extend it on 
every side. It has served, hke the telescope, to make 
us familiar with objects before imperfectly compre- 
hended ; but at the same time, by the obscure vision 
of things unknown, of relations and dependencies of 
which we had no conception, it has shown us the 
comparative nothingness of human knowledge. 

Are you destined for the legal profession, or are 
you ambitious of distinction in the pubhc service of 
your country ? 

Surely the recent competition for this office, which 
now entitles me to address you, is pregnant with 
signal proof that whatever be the place of your 
nativity, whatever be the accidents of yom' birth, 
the highest distinctions are accessible to all, and that 
no national jealousies remain to obstruct yom* 
advancement, or to envy you the possession of them 
when obtained. 

There were two competitors presented for jour 
choice. You will readily beheve, that on this occa- 
sion I shall make no remark on any circumstance 
connected with the recent contest, which can by 
possibihty revive or excite an angry feeling, or which 
can even provoke an expression of dissent. But 
there are reflections suggested by that contest which 
can offend none, and may serve as an encouragement 
and stimulus to all. 

Your choice lay between two competitors : the one 
the son of a minister of the Church of Scotland ;* 

* Sir John Campbell, M.P. 


the other the son of an Enghshman, the founder of 
his own fortunes by dint of honest and laborious 
exertions in the very same pursuits of active industry 
which, within this great city, are elevating so many 
to affluence and to honourable station. The one at- 
tains the highest eminence in the profession of the 
law ; the other was called by the favour and the con- 
fidence of his Sovereign, to the highest trust which 
a subject can execute, that of administering the 
government of this great country. And mark the 
gratifying proof of the obhteration of every prejudice 
connected with national distinctions or jealousies. 
The Scotsman is preferred to every Enghsh competi- 
tor, and receives his honours at the bar of England, 
without a murmur that they are conferred upon 
a Scotsman. But although a Scotsman, educated at 
a Scottish University, he is not equally successful in 
a contest for academical distinction in his own 
country. That is reserved for an Enghshman, edu- 
cated at an English University, with no other con- 
nection with Scotland than that of respect for her 
name and national character, and a cordial interest 
in her welfare. And let me express a hope that 
whatever other objections might apply to the choice, 
there was no grudging feeling on account of this 
reciprocation of honourable appointments between 
the natives of the two countries, and that the cir- 
cumstance of my being an Englishman does not 
operate to my prejudice, even in the eyes of those 
who would have preferred on general grounds a 
different result of the election. 


I have said that the field for exertion is boundless ; 
I have said the avenues to distinction are free ; and 
that it is within your power to command an entrance 
to them. I repeat, with the earnestness of the deep- 
est conviction, that there is a presumption, amount- 
ing almost to certainty, that if any one of you will 
determine to be eminent, in whatever profession you 
may choose, and wiU act with unvarying steadiness 
in pursuance of that determination, you will, if health 
and strength be given to you, infalhbly succeed. Yes, 
even if what is called genius shall have been denied 
to you, you have faculties of the mind, which may 
be so improved by constant exercise and vigilance, 
that they shall supply the place of genius, and open 
to you brighter prospects of ultimate success than 
genius, unaided by the same discipline, can hope to 
attain. There may be, there are, no doubt, original 
differences in different persons, in the depth and in 
the quality of the intellectual mine ; but, in all ordi- 
nary cases, the practical success of the working of that 
mine depends, in by far the greatest degree, upon the 
care, the labour, the perfection of the machinery 
which is applied to it. 

Do I say that you can command success without 
difficulty? No: difficulty is the condition of success. 
" Difficulty is a severe instructor set over us by the 
supreme ordinance of a parental Guardian and Legis- 
lator, who knows us better than we know ourselves, 
as he loves us better too. ' Pater ipse colendi, baud 
facilem esse viam voluit.' He that wrestles with us 
strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skiU. Our 


antagonist is our helper. This amicable conflict with 
difficulty obliges us to an intimate acquaintance with 
our object, and compels us to consider it in all its 
relations. It will not suffer us to be superficial." 
These are the memorable words of the first of philo- 
sophic statesmen, of the greatest orator of modern 
ages at least, if it were allowed to judge of oratory 
by the compositions it has bequeathed to posterity, 
without reference to the aid it has derived from the 
authoritative position or the physical qualifications 
of the speaker. They are words, which if this office 
hath authority in yom' eyes, should have especial 
weight with you; for their illustrious author, Mr. 
Burke, from this place, and on an occasion similar 
to the present, might have exhorted the youth of 
this University, by the example of his own life, as 
well as by the eloquence of his precepts, to seek the 
antagonist which is also our helper. Enter, then, 
into the amiable conflict with difficulty. Whenever 
you encounter it, turn not aside : say not " there is 
a lion in the path ;" resolve upon mastering it ; and 
every successive triumph will inspire you with that 
confidence in yourselves, that habit of victory that 
will make futm'e conquests easy. 

On by far the greater part of you it is incumbent 
to acquire those intellectual quahties which shall fit 
you for action rather than speculation. It is not 
therefore by mere study, by the mere accumulation 
of knowledge, that you can hope for eminence. 
Mental discipline, the exercise of the faculties of the 
mind, the quickening of your apprehension, the 


strengthening of your memory, the forming of a 
sound, rapid, and discriminating judgment, are of 
even more importance than the store of learning. 

If you will consider these faculties as the gifts of 
nature, by far the first in value — if you will be per- 
suaded, as you ought to be, that they are capable of 
constant, progressive, and therefore almost indefinite 
improvement, that by arts similar to those by which 
magic feats of dexterity and bodily strength are per- 
formed, a capacity for the nobler feats of the mind 
may be acquired, — the first, the especial object of 
yom' youth, will be to estabhsh that control over 
your own minds, and your own habits, that shall 
ensure the proper cultivation of this precious inheri- 

Try, even for a short period, the experiment of ex- 
ercising such control. If in the course of your study 
you meet with a difficulty, resolve on overcoming it 
— if you cannot, by your own unaided eiforts, be not 
ashamed to admit your inability, and seek for assis- 

Practise the economy of time ; consider time, Hke 
the faculties of your mind, a precious estate, — that 
every moment of it well appHed is put out to an ex- 
orbitant interest. I do not say, devote yourselves 
to um'emitting labom*, and forego aU amusement ; 
but I do say, that the zest of amusement itself, as 
well as the successful result of apphcation, depend in 
a great measure upon the economy of time. When 
you have Hved half a century you will have seen 
many instances in which he who finds time for every- 


thing — for punctuality in all the relations of life, for 
the pleasures of society, for the cultivation of Htera- 
ture, for every rational amusement — is the same man 
who is the most assiduous and the most successftd 
in the active pursuits of his profession. 

Estimate also properly the force of habit. Exer- 
cise a constant, an um'emitting vigilance over the 
acquirement of habit, in matters that are apparently 
of entire indifference, that perhaps are really so, inde- 
pendently of the habits which they engender. It is by 
the neglect of such trifles that bad habits are acquired, 
and that the mind, by tolerating negligence and pro- 
crastination in matters of small account, but frequent 
recurrence, — matters of which the world takes no 
notice, becomes accustomed to the same defects in 
matters of higher importance. 

If you will make the experiment of which I have 
spoken, if for a given time you will resolve that there 
shall be a complete understanding of everything you 
read, or the honest admission that you do not under- 
stand it ; that there shall be a strict regard to the 
distribution of time ; that there shall be a constant 
struggle against the bondage of bad habits ; a con- 
stant effort, which can only be made from within, to 
master the mind, to subject its various processes to 
healthftd action, the early fruits of this experiment, 
the feeling of self-satisfaction, the consciousness of 
growing strength, the force of good habit, will be in- 
ducements to its continuance more powerful than any 

These are the arts, this is the patient and laborious 


process by which in all times and in all professions 
the foundations of excellence and of fame have been 

Is it possible to consult the works of any man of 
real eminence who has lefb a record of the discipHne 
by which his own mind was trained, without finding 
abundant proofs that it was not by trusting to the 
inspirations of genius, but by constant perseverance, 
and vigilance, and care, that success was obtained ? 
Take as an eminent example of this, the account 
which Cicero gives of his own early education. Mark 
the intentness on one object — mark how every occu- 
pation, amusement, foreign travel, society, the con- 
versation of the lightest hour, all were made ancillary 
to the one great pm*pose of improving the mind, and 
fitting it for the high functions to which its faculties 
were to be appHed. Speaking of himself he says, — 
" At vero ego hoc tempore omni noctes et dies in 
omnium doctrinarum meditatione versabai'." "Huic 
ego doctori (Diodoto), et ejus artibus variis, atque 
multis ita eram deditus, ut ab exercitationibus ora- 

toriis nullus dies vacuus esset. Cum me et amici 

et medici hortarentur, ut causus agere desisterem, 
quodvis potius periculum mihi adeimdum, quam a 

sperata dieendi gloria discedendum putavi. Cum 

venissem Athenas" — Observe, I beseech you, when 
Cicero was engaged in foreign travel, how different 
were his occupations from those of many who trust 
to the inspiration of genius, — and who complain of 
the want of success without having resorted to any 
one of the means by which success is to be attained ! 


— " Cum venissem Athenas, sex menses cum Anti- 
ocho, veteris academise nobilissimo et prudentissimo 
philosoplio, ftii, studiumque philosophise numquam 
iiitermissum, a primaque adolescentia cultum, et 
semper auctum, hoc rursus summo auctore et doctore 

renovavi." "Post a me Asia tota peragrata est, 

cum summis quidem oratoribus, quibuscum exercebar 
ipsis lubentibus. Quibus non contentus, Ehodum 
veni, me que ad eundem, quern. Eomse audiveram, 

Molonem, apphcavi. Nimis multa videor de me, 

ipse prsesertim ; sed omni huic sermoni propositum est, 
non ut ingenium, et eloquentiam meam, unde longe 
absum, sed ut laborem, et industriam admireris." 

When such records of perseverance in study and 
in mental discipline are presented to us, they abate, 
in some degree, our wonder at the accomphshments 
and acquirements which were the legitimate result. 

"It is veiy natural," says Sir Joshua Eeynolds, 
" for those who are unacquainted with the cause of 
anything extraordinary, to be astonished at the 
effect, and to consider it as a kind of magic." 

" The travellers into the East teU us, that when 
the ignorant inhabitants of those countries are asked 
concerning the ruins of stately edifices yet remaining 
among them, the melancholy monuments of their 
former grandeur and long-lost science, they always 
answer that they were built by magicians. The un- 
taught mind finds a vast gulf between its own powers 
and those works of compHcated art which it is utterly 
unable to fathom, and it supposes that such a void 
can be passed only by supernatural powers." 


We have in the instance of Cicero, the stately 
edifice, the monument of intellectual grandeur ; but 
we have also the evidence of the illustrious architect 
to prove to us by what careful process the founda- 
tions were securely laid, and the scaffolding was 
gradually erected. Our wonder at the perfection of 
the work may be abated, but what can abate our 
admiration and respect for the elevated views — the 
burning thirst for knowledge and for fame — the noble 
ambition which " scorned deHghts, and lived labo- 
rious days," — which had engraven on the memory 
the paternal exhoi'tation to the hero in Homer, the 
noblest, says Dr. Johnson, that can be found in any 
heathen writer : — 

" Aiiu x^iarwuu vTruQOxov ifAf/^tvui ocXKav.^^ 

The name, the authority, the example of Cicero, 
conduct me naturally to a topic which I should be 
unwilhng to pass in silence. 1 allude to the immense 
importance to all who aspire to conspicuous stations 
in any department of public or learned professional 
life — the immense importance of classical acquire- 
ments, of imbuing your minds with a knowledge of 
the pure models of antiquity, and a taste for their 
constant study and cultivation. Do not disregard 
this admonition from the impression that it proceeds 
from the natural prejudice in favour of classical learn- 
ing, which education at an English University may 
have unconsciously instilled, or that it is offered pre- 
sumptuously by one who is ignorant of that descrip- 


tion of knowledge which is best adapted to the habits 
and occupations of society in Scotland. 

Oh let us take higher and more extensive views ! 
Feel assured that a wider horizon than that of Scot- 
land is opening upon you — that you are candidates 
starting with equal advantage for every prize of profit 
or distinction which the wide circle of an empire 
extended through every quarter of the globe can 

Bear in mind, too, that every improvement in the 
means of communication between distant parts of 
that empire is pointing out a new avenue to fame, 
particularly to those who are remote from the seat 
of government. This is not the place where injustice 
should be done to that mighty discovery, which is 
effecting a daily change in the pre-existing relations 
of society. It is not within the College of Grlasgow 
that a false and injurious estimate should be made of 
the results of the speculations of Black, and of the 
inventive genius of Watt. The steam engine and the 
railroad are not merely facihtating the transport of 
merchandise, they are not merely shortening the 
duration of journies, or administering to the supply 
of physical wants. They are speeding the intercourse 
between mind and mind — they are creating new 
demands for knowledge — they are fertilizing the in- 
tellectual as well as the material waste : — they are 
removing the impediments which obscurity or re- 
moteness, or poverty may have heretofore opposed to 
the emerging of real merit. 

They are supplying you, in the mere facihty of 


locomotion, with a new motive for classical study. 
They are enabling you with comparative ease to 
enjoy that pure and refined pleasure which makes the 
past predominate over the present, when we stand 
upon the spots where the illustrious deeds of ancient 
times have been performed, and meditate on monu- 
ments that are associated with names and actions 
that can never perish. They are oflPering to your 
lips the intoxicating draught that is described with 
such noble enthusiasm by Gibbon : — " At the distance 
of twenty-five years, I can neither forget nor express 
the strong emotions which agitated my mind, as I 
first approached and entered the eternal city. After 
a sleepless night I trod with a lofty step the ruins 
of the Forum ; each memorable spot where Romulus 
stood, or Tully spoke, or Csesar fell, was at once 
present to my eye, and several days of intoxication 
were lost or enjoyed before I could descend to a cool 
or minute investigation." 

I need not recall to your recollection the earnest 
and eloquent exhortations to the study of ancient, 
and particularly of Attic composition, which have 
been dehvered from this seat. I need not remind 
you of the manifold facilities which that study 
affords you towards the comprehension of the struc- 
ture of modern languages, and towards the formation 
of style on the purest models ; nor need I tell you 
how indispensable it is to the understanding of a 
thousand allusions to the usages and expressions and 
annals of classical antiquity, which are scattered 
with happy prodigality through some of the finest 


of modern compositions — allusions tliat have a voice 
for the wise — (puuxuru. awsroiatv — that are intelligible 
to those, but to those alone, who have been initiated 
in these delightful mysteries. 

Let me, however, attempt to bring from the 
examples of public hfe a practical confirmation of the 
truth of these maxims, and the wisdom of these 
exhortations. 1 ask you simply to pass in succession 
the names of those who have stood most conspicuous 
in the great arena of pubhc competition, and to 
remark the proportion borne to the total number by 
those who have been eminent for classical acquire- 
ments. I purposely exclude the remoter periods of 
our. history, pregnant as they are with examples in 
favour of the position I maintain, because, when 
education was in a great degree confined to classical 
learning, the possession of it would almost necessarily 
accompany other superior quahfications for high 
public trusts. But take recent periods of our history, 
take the most recent preceding our own, when the 
means of acqumng various knowledge have been so 
extensive, that there is the opportunity for fair com- 
parison between the several attainments which may 
have assisted the competitor for public honours. 

What are the chief names (I am speaking of 
pubhc hfe) that have floated down, and are likely to 
remain buoyant on the stream of time. Of the whole 
number, how large is the proportion of men eminent 
for classical acquirements and classical tastes ! In 
the judicial station there are Lord Mansfield, Lord 
Stowell, Lord Ellenborough, Lord Tenterden. In 


political life, Lord North, Mr. Pitt, Mr. Fox, Mr. 
Burke, Lord Grenville, Mr. Windham, Mr. Canning, 
all pre-eminent for classical attainments. This, at 
least, is demonstrated, that the time devoted by them 
to classical studies had not obstructed their elevation. 
But surely there is a very strong presumption, from 
the proportion which they bear to the total number 
of distinguished men of their time, that classical 
learning, and the accompHshments derived from the 
study of it, must have given them great advantages 
in the competition for distinction. 

No doubt high, perhaps equal, eminence has been 
attained in some few instances by men who have not 
cultivated, or at least have not been remarkable, for 
classical acquirements ; but is there not strong reason 
to believe, that in their case success would have been 
more easy, and more complete, had such acquirements 
been superadded to their other quahfications ? 

Do not, however, contemplate the men whom I 
have named merely amid the excitement of poHtical 
or forensic contention ; do not consider their classical 
knowledge merely as an usefid instrument for the 
improvement of their style, and for gilding with the 
charms of happy allusion or learned illustration the 
pubhc displays of their eloquence. FoUow them 
into the retirement of private life, witness the refined 
taste with which classical studies have inspired them, 
and learn to estimate the compensation they have 
ofl'ered for the loss of power, or for the interruption 
of active employment. Take as examples the men 
the most prominent in recent pohtical history, the 


great rivals, Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox. In the case of 
each you have the most unexceptionable evidence, as 
to the pursuits and studies in which they found 
relaxation and amusement, whenever the contentions 
and occupations of pubhc life were intermitted. 

Lord Holland thus speaks of Mr. Fox, in the pre- 
face to the " History of the Eeign of James II." — 
" During his retirement the love of hterature and 
fondness for poetry, which neither pleasure nor busi- 
ness had ever extinguished, revived with an ardour, 
such as few in the eagerness of youth, or in pursuit 
of fame or advantage, are capable of feeling. Hence 
it was that in the interval between his active attend- 
ance in Parhament, and the undertaking of his 
history, he never felt the tedium of a vacant day. 

" It was more difficult to fortify himself against 
the seductions of his own inclination, which was con- 
tinually drawing him off from historical researches, 
to critical inqmries, to the study of the classics, and 
to works of imagination and poetiy. Abundant proof 
exists of the effects of these interruptions both on 
his labours and on his mind. His letters are filled 
with complaints of such as arose from politics, while 
he speaks vdth dehght and complacency of whole 
days devoted to Euripides and Yii-gil." 

Still more recent testimony has been borne to the 
acquirements, the tastes, the studies of Mr. Pitt, by 
one who, combining the character of a statesman with 
the highest acquirements of a scholar, is an authority 
inferior to none, as to the importance and value of 
classical accomphshments. 


In a letter of the Marquis Wellesley, which has 
been made pubHc within a few weeks, he says of Mr. 

'• He was perfectly accomplished in classical Htera- 
tnre, both Latin and Greek. The accuracy and 
strength of his memory surpassed every example 
which I have obseiwed, but the intrinsic vigour of 
his understanding carried him far beyond the mere 
recollection of the great models of antiquity in ora- 
tory, poetry, history, and philosophy ; he had drawn 
their essence into his own thoughts and language, 
and with astonishing facihty he apphed the whole 
spirit of ancient learning to his daily use." 

"Those studies were his constant delight and 
resort. At Holwood, in Kent, and at Walmer 
Castle, his apartments were strewed with Latin and 
Greek classics ; and his conversation with those 
friends who delighted in similar studies frequently 
tmTied on that most attractive branch of learning. 
In these pursuits his constant and congenial com- 
panion was Lord Grenville, who has often declared 
to me that Mr. Pitt was the best Greek scholar he 
ever conversed with." 

" I have dwelt on this branch of Mr. Pitt's accom- 
plishments because I know not any source from 
which more salutary assistance can be derived, to 
chase from the spirits those clouds and vapours which 
infest vacant minds, and, by self-weariness, render 
retirement melancholy and intolerable." 

How striking is the contrast between the retire- 
ment of these men and that of others, scarcely less 


eminent in public life, who had not congenial tastes 
for literary and classical studies. 

" Though he had not forgotten his classical attain- 
ments," says the biographer of Walpole, "he had 
Httle taste for literary occupations. He once ex- 
pressed his regret on this subject to a friend who was 
reading in the library at Houghton. ' I wish,' he 
said, ' I took as much delight in reading as you do, 
it would be the means of alleviating many tedious 
hours in my present retirement ; but, to my mis- 
fortune, I derive no pleasure from such pm-suits.' " 

Surely these testimonies, and these contrasts, are 
pregnant with lessons of instruction. Surely they 
encourage us to acquire those habits, and to cultivate 
those studies, which, at the same time that they are 
the highest solace and the most grateful relaxation 
fi'om the cares of busmess and the world, are furnish- 
ing to him who takes delight in them new capacity 
for intellectual exertion, new stores of precious 

" An tu existimas," said the kindred spirit of anti- 
quity, "an tu existimas aut suppetere nobis posse, 
quod quotidie dicamus in tanta, varietate rerum, nisi 
animos nostros doctrina excolamus, aut ferre animos 
tantam posse contentionem, nisi eos eadem doctrina 

Noble relaxation! which, while it unbends, invi- 
gorates the mind — while it is reheving aud refi'eshing 
it from the exhaustion of present contention, is brac- 
ing and fortifying it for that which is to come. 
I have detained you at too great length. I am 

r^nTEBSiTT or Glasgow. 209 

well aware tliat the observations I have addressed to 
you have nothing of novelty to recommend them ; 
that the truths to which I have adverted are so 
obvious that they scarcely require the aid of reasoning 
to enforce them. But they are truths of vital im- 
portance, and it too frequently happens that the 
ready assent which the understanding yields to them 
has not the practical influence on our conduct which 
it ought to have. If it had, how many of us would 
have been spared the painful reti'ospect, that retros- 
pect which you may avert, but which we cannot, of 
opportunities lost, of time misspent, of habits of in- 
dolence or negligence become inveterate. 

Hitherto I have referred exclusively to the con- 
siderations of worldly advantage and worldly fame, as 
ncouragements to early and continued exertion. 
We have seen how powerful they were in animating 
the ambitious spirit of the Eoman orator. And yet 
not one of the motives by which he was stimulated 
is wanting to you. His field for competition was 
not more ample, his reward of success was not more 
-plendid. You have a country as much endeared to 
. ou by proud recollections — you have institutions, 
ivil and religious, standing in equal need of yom* 
solicitude, and infinitely more worthy of your defence. 
But for you there are incitements to labour, to 
zeal in the cause of knowledge and of virtue, infinitely 
eyond any which could have animated the exertions 
jf Cicero. The love of praise, the hope of posthu- 
mous glory, were with him the chief springs of action 
— the great, the only reward of anxiety and labour, 


"Nullum enim virtus aliam mereedem laborum, 
periculorumque desiderat, praeter banc laudis et glorise, 
qua quidem detracta, judices, quid est, quod in hoc 
tarn exiguo vitse curriculo et tarn brevi, tantis nos in 
laboribus exerceamus ?" You can give an answer to 
that appeal which he could not anticipate. To you 
there wiU remain encouragements to exertion — com- 
pensations for toil and danger — should the hope of 
worldly praise and glory be obscured. You have the 
express command of Grod to improve the faculties 
which distinguish you from the beasts that perish. 
You have the awful Imowledge, that of the use or 
neglect of those faculties a solemn account must be 
rendered. You have the assurance of an immortality 
far different from that of worldly fame. 

By every motive which can influence a reflecting 
and responsible being, " a being of a large discourse, 
looking before and after," — by the memory of the 
distinguished men who have shed a lustre on these 
walls, — by regard for yom' own success and happiness 
in this hfe — by the fear of future discredit — by the 
hope of lasting fame, — by all these considerations do 
I conjure you, while you have yet time, while your 
minds are yet flexible, to form them on the models 
which approach the nearest to perfection. — Sursum 
corda! By motives yet more urgent, — by higher 
and purer aspirations — by the duty of obedience to 
the will of God — by the awful account you will have 
to render, not merely of moral actions, but of faculties 
entrusted to you for improvement, — ^by these high 
arguments do I conjure you, so "to number your 


days that you may apply your hearts unto wisdom" 
— unto that wisdom which, directing your ambition 
to the noble end of benefiting mankind, and teaching 
you humble rehance on the merits and on the mercy 
of your Eedeemer, may support you " in the time of 
your tribulation," may admonish you " in the time of 
your wealth," and "in the hour of death, and in the 
day of judgment," may comfort you with the hope 
of deliverance. 





A. J. SCOTT, M.A., 


Delivered October 3, 1851. 

It has been thought proper, by the governing body 
of Owens College, that its opening should be marked 
m some more pubhc and emphatic manner than its 
position has yet allowed. The duty is imposed on 
me of endeavoming to give some elevating and useful 
aim to the interest awakened by such a celebration. 
In delivering what must still be, in its essential 
character, an inaugural lecture on commencing the 
discharge of an academical office, I shall yield to the 
modification of that character suggested by the cir- 
cumstances in which we meet, and by the relation in 
which our institution stands towards a community 
like that of Manchester. The occasion which brings 
us together is the establishment of a coUege ; of an 
institution for carrying on, in connection with a great 
and growing university, the work of university edu- 


cation. We cannot advert to this without being led 
to consider the character and the worth of such an 
education : and on this subject, chiefly, I am about 
to address you. 

The foundation in itself of the college, the zealous 
discharge, by some of those who best know Manches- 
ter, of the preliminary duties of its administration, 
the eager discussion in pubhc of questions relating 
to the system to be pm-sued in it, in short, all the 
indications of interest excited by this new effort to 
introduce into the city the means of acquiring 
academic scholai'ship, are proofs that a want is ac- 
knowledged for which a university education is felt 
to be the appropriate supply. I may, therefore, hope 
to find among you a predisposition to weigh what 
may be offered as aid towards a definite conception 
of the cultm'e which such an education is designed 
to besto'^7, and of the grounds on which it is worthy 
to be sought ; while, on the other hand, I am stimu- 
lated to the undertaking by contemplating the pro- 
digious antagonist forces, with which the serene and 
ideal atti'actions of the intellectual Hfe have to struggle 
in this metropolis of the world's industrial activity ; 
forces, some of them essentially hostile, destined, we 
trust, to be weakened or crushed in the conflict, but 
for the most part intrinsically noble or needful, and 
capable, therefore, of being harmonized with the 
influences which we have now especially to advocate, 
and of co-operating with them in a friendly oppo- 
sition and healthful counterpoise, like that which 
maintains order among the powers of the material 

214 A. J. SCOTT, M.A. 

world, and which a due social organization strives to 

The most obvious conception of the culture in- 
tended to be given by a university, is derived from such 
establishments having been originally employed in 
preparing men for the duties of a particular profession . 
There can be no doubt that this is to a great extent 
historically true, though not quite so absolutely as is 
generally supposed. At a very early stage in the 
history of modern civilization, — previously to the 
twelfth century, that is, — the schools of the great 
churches, then most nearly corresponding to univer- 
sities, offered scholastic education to any one who 
would accept it ; though few, no doubt, perceived in 
it any value except in preparing for the priesthood. 
The schools of the more learned monasteries, such as 
that of Bee, in Normandy, which furnished England 
with two archbishops in the eleventh century, received, 
even at that remote period, future counts and dukes 
among the students as well as clergymen. But it is 
on the whole true, that those great schools, and the 
universities which from the twelfth century succeeded 
them, educated few who were not designed to officiate 
in the church. It does not follow that the education 
there bestowed was exclusively professional, according 
to the standard of knowledge at the time. Were 
this the proper occasion, it would not he hard to show 
that the case was decidedly the reverse. According 
to their means, it was characteristically a Hberal edu- 
cation that those teachers purposed to communicate. 
G-rammar, arithmetic, music, rhetoric, are studies 


well selected to form the basis of a general develop- 
ment of the humanity. If they were wretchedly 
taught, often wretchedly comprehended by those 
who had to teach, this is a defect of quite a different 
sort from priestly exclusiveness. A more just view 
of the fact, in regard to the universities at this early 
stage, is, that they attracted towards them the mass 
of such as aspired after the full exercise of their men- 
tal faculties, and an application of them to high and 
worthy objects ; and that, in the existing condition 
of society, there was also but one profession towards 
which such men generally were drawn. 

We are not, therefore, helped to solve the problem 
of what a university education is, so far as the origin 
of these institutions can help us, by this reference to 
professional pm'poses. As they aimed simply to give 
the highest education they could, we have still to 
inquire after the characteristics or essentials of this 
highest education. No doubt, this predominance of 
a professional interest gradually affected the process 
of instruction. StiU, so much secular knowledge and 
free command of the intellect was imparted as to be 
found, without some counter check, even dangerous 
to theological behef. It was this, indicated by the 
notorious fact that the great schoolmen, after the 
universities had existed for a century, were the 
champions of investigation rather than of orthodoxy, 
which led to the memorable enterprise of the Domi- 
nican order in the thirteenth century, to give a 
directly rehgious aim to all the prevaihng studies ; 
that is, in other words, to use every particle of the 

216 A. J. SCOTT, M.A. 

existing knowledge as a weapon on the side of the 
estabhshed religious system. The intellectual culture 
of the laity had already greatly advanced. The pro- 
fessional or theological character which it was now 
sought to impress on general learning was in every 
sense a reaction against secular predominance, against 
independent inquiry, against studies which had attrac- 
ted even the clergy from those of their profession. 
Then, indeed, an ecclesiastical character was impressed 
on the liighest education. But it was quite too 
late to attempt to repress what may be called the 
secular spirit in its pursuit of acquirement. The 
manifestations of its reaction in its turn were mani- 
fold throughout lettered Europe. There were abeady 
universities mainly for secular studies, as Bologna for 
civil law, Salerno for medicine. But in England 
took place the most vigorous display of educational 
enterprise on the part of the laity. The importance 
of the higher studies in preparing for pohtical hfe ; 
and the eligibility, for laymen of a certain rank, of 
professional pursuits hitherto abandoned to the 
clergy, led, in the fourteenth century, to the establish- 
ment of the Inns of Coui't. Then were the days of 
that laborious learning, whose very effluvium or 
aroma, after centuries, hangs about certain localities 
like an infection, sufficiently vigorous to make men 
catch lawyership as the endemic of the place. But 
the process was not at once so very refined as now. 
The Inns of. Court constituted as yet a true lay uni- 
versity, where a systematic and comprehensive know- 
ledge was aimed at, of whatever entered into the 


education of a gentleman, according to the standard 
of the time. 

It is not needful to pursue farther this historical 
illustration. Whatever formalities, predilections, or 
restrictions may remain to attest the former prepon- 
derance of the clergy in European universities, they 
are still conceived of as professing to give the most 
thorough and the most finished intellectual prepar- 
ation for the secular hfe also ; with this noticeable 
distinction, that in the universities of the continent, 
the idea of fitting men for their special functions and 
vocations has the greater influence, and in England, 
the idea of that training which should distinguish the 
man of mental cultivation in general, — what we 
mean, in short, by the characteristically EngHsh 
phrase to which I before had recourse, the education 
of a gentleman. 

Admitting, then, that at one time the members of 
a particular profession mainly received their educa- 
tion at the universities of Europe, and that now there 
are certain vocations for which a university education 
is considered as especially necessaiy, or is even abso- 
lutely requii'ed by authority, we find, in these facts, 
not the essential character of such an education, but 
merely an extrinsic result of it. Universities are not 
to be defined as the means of preparing men for 
certain vocations, although there be certain vocations 
for which a university education is pecuharly needful 
or useful. In the middle ages, a prior or a parish 
priest was not expected to make direct use, in his 
official duties, of his acquaintance with the scientific 

218 A. J. SCOTT, M.A. 

principles of arithmetic, dialectics, or astronomy, as a 
knight was of his training in the use of arms and ui 
the management of his horse ; but it was expected 
that the whole mind and character of the scholar 
should have received a discipline, nutriment, and ex- 
pansion from his academic pursuits, fitting him the 
better for humane, large, and lofty functions. This 
is plainly what was meant, however it was performed. 
In hke manner, an English judge now may never in 
his whole legal existence have to refer to the Princi- 
pia of Newton, or to the Mecanique Celeste of La 
Place ; and yet the knowledge of those works, which 
a university^ has placed within his reach, may truly 
indicate a certain culture of the man, contributing to 
the dignity, and depth, and exactness with which his 
ofiice is discharged. A French engineer has attended 
the course of Cousin, a Grerman diplomatist those of 
Schelling or Hegel, an Edinbm-gh physician those of 
Hamilton, and the more they have learned, the less 
Hkely will they be to obtrude the methods or propo- 
sitions of metaphysical or dialectical science into their 
respective business ; but, the more they have learned, 
the more comprehensiveness, resource, and mental 
finish will they display there. Evidently, at least, 
this was the object of their academic instruction. 
Where in practice it is missed, or imperfectly realized, 
the practice requires improvement, but ever in accor- 
dance with the fundamental principle. 

How, then, are we to characterize that learning of 
which universities are to be the special seat ? which 
has evidently, at first sight, the aii- of somewhat 


more profound, radical, and speculative than is else- 
where cultivated; insomuch that wherever isolated 
individuals dedicate themselves to the like researches 
or contemplations, we feel that a substantial identity 
subsists between their pursuits and those for which 
colleges are erected. Instead of an immediately- 
tangible or saleable utihty forming their essence, 
they seem to be distinguished by its absence. What 
can any man do, or produce, corresponding to, or co- 
extensive with, his knowledge of the higher geometry, 
of the comparative anatomy of Cuvier and Owen, or 
or the comparative glossology of Grimm and Bopp ? 
What may seem an answer to this confirms and illus- 
trates our position. 'No doubt improvements in 
theoretic mathematics, for example, are followed by 
improvements in the arts of life, but from minds 
fixed and limited by any practical ends, mathematical 
system could never have come forth. Again, the 
practical results of great discoveries of truth are, to 
a great extent, necessarily unforeseen, their very 
dii'ection unthought of, not only during the investi- 
gation, but even after the discovery is made, and by 
the discoverer himself. They cannot constitute his 
guidance or his inducement. It is truth for her own 
sake he has sought. Men gather fruit from his 
knowledge, because truth is prolific. But the pro- 
gressive apphcations of a great discovery dm'ing 
centuries, or to the end of time, are an incomplete 
measure of the pregnancy of the original truth, 
which, by its piinciple of active life, is greater, and 
more precious than all of them. We have here. 

220 A. J. SCOTT, M.A. 

then, a sphere of mental activity, which is, indeed, 
found to be fertile in most important uses, while 
these uses cannot be anticipated during the process, 
or proposed as its object. If far the larger share of 
such fruits are not directly or distinctly contemplated 
by the inquirer himself, how much less will the mass 
of mankind associate them with his abstruse studies ? 
Kepler may have been aware that an improved 
knowledge of the planetary motions must improve 
navigation ; he may even have definitely contemplated 
the lunar method of finding longitude as a result of 
his improvement of the lunar theory ; but were mer- 
chants or seamen Hkely to consider their affairs as 
influenced by his enormous and apparently abstract 
calculations ? Had the passion with which he de- 
voted himself to ascertain the law of proportion 
between the distances of the planetary orbits from 
the sun, and the periods of their revolutions, any- 
thing to do, according to the apprehension of his 
cotemporaries, with future fleets bringing home the 
materials of English manufactures, and the produce 
and manufactures of lands ionumerable, for English 
use ? And yet, in the commerce of all our ports is 
Kepler living, thinking, working, even now, daily 
and hourly, with a ubiquity and effect against which 
no services of individuals directly engaged in it are 
for a moment to be measured ; discharging functions 
for which the payment of annual thousands in per- 
petuity would be a scanty recompense. Nay, not 
Kepler only, but the old Alexandrian, the Athenian 
of two thousand years ago, the Chaldean watching 


the heavenly motions another millennium away from 
us, — those who laid to the hands of Copernicus and 
Kepler the vast accumulation of materials for astro- 
nomical system, — all these are yet working in the 
midst of us, and for us. But astronomy itself is 
nothing without geometry. How purely contempla- 
tive, how utterly disconnected from the thought of 
practical appHcation, were those studies of Euclid 
and Archimedes, which to later ages have proved the 
basis of practice in innumerable departments! In 
the Pythagorean and Platonic schools were laid the 
foundations of the Grreek geometry ; and there the 
superiority to practical considerations was matter of 
principle and of system : yet there were the Conic 
Sections studied, so as to enable Kepler and his 
successors, a thousand years after, to apply to the 
planetary orbits a complete doctrine of the properties 
of the ellipse, which had waited all that time for the 
manifestation of its utility. Look, then, at those 
abstracted and theoretic ancients ; and then show me 
the practical man, the scale and the result of whose 
operations is, for mere usefulness, to be named with 
theirs. But it was a benefit they conferred unawares, 
or knowing only that truth is fruitful, that knowledge 
is ultimately power ; and if they knew not of that 
benefit, how could it be foreseen, or commissioned, 
paid for beforehand, by any generation from theirs to 
ours ? There is no apphcation of physical truth 
which seems so like the multiplying the limbs 
and extending prodigiously of an individual human 
presence, as the great series of the inventions of 

222 A. J. SCOTT, M.A. 

James Watt. Your city, as it stands, is almost his 
creation. To this there is no need to call youi- 
thoughts. But observe the nature of his prehminary 
inquiries. Who was likely to have considered as 
practical^ the employments of a poor maker of mathe- 
matical instruments, devoting his too much leisure 
to mastering, testing, and extending Black's para- 
doxical theory of latent heat ? It is the pulse of his 
brain that now throbs in all your engines ; it is a 
great assemblage of speculative spirits which wields 
as its instrument the myriads of arms, and tools, and 
machines that stir around us. The men who in the 
very nature of things can never be appreciated, can 
never be hired, are the men that do the most even of 
that work which the world is readiest to value and 

In these remarks, I would not be understood as 
seeking to illustrate the practical utihty of investiga- 
tions in physical science. That topic is abundantly 
trite, and uncontested amongst us ; so much so, 
indeed, that physical science itself is popularly iden- 
tified with its economic apphcations. But I would 
take physical science as an illustration of the trans- 
cendent part which soKtary and abstract study, not 
immediately directed to any outwai'd result, bears in 
the history of the most practical improvement. So 
that human society is, for its own good, bound to 
afford for such study, opportunity and encouragement, 
since it cannot adequately recompense ; to take care 
lest all its members become mainly practical men ; to 
store up, and continue from age to age, the results 


of the more profound inquiry and speculation; to 
supply to the hand of the workers the stock of 
principles and facts, on which the truth of their 
working may be found, in varying and expanding 
circumstances, to depend. For such ends, among 
other instruments, has been instituted among every 
highly civihzed people, something equivalent to a 
university education. 

The men by whom achievements of such lasting 
worth are to be done, being comparatively regardless 
of results immediately estimable by others, must 
needs be comparatively elevated above considerations 
of self-interest. In children we see from the first a 
beautiful inquisitiveness, rendering it a reward in 
itself to know and understand more of that world of 
life and matter which Hes around them. By and 
by, they have learned enough of the objects, to have 
a certain mastery over them, to be able to do some- 
thing with them, if but in play, or in mimicry of 
earnest processes. They discover what pleasure or 
profit men can command from nature ; and at this 
point a great division takes place among minds, 
affecting the course of the after life. Some foUow in 
the beaten track of profit and advantage ; with some 
few remains the fresh eagerness to know, and sym- 
pathy, so to speak, with the hfe of the universe, 
which made the happiness of the child. These are 
the men to the highest of whom the world owes its 
great accessions of quickening knowledge, while others, 
in subordinate place, are well pleased to receive, com- 
municate, perpetuate it, and hold it ready for the 

224 A. J, SCOTT, M.A. 

applications of those engaged in action. Disinter- 
estedness is but another name for a disposition to find 
their interest and their recompense in the seeking 
and finding of the knowledge itself; a disposition 
belonging, as we have seen, to the very essence of 
their function. It would be idle to claim for this 
class an exemption from the ordinary necessities and 
appetites of humanity, or from the pursuit of their 
gratification, or to deny that in some instances, among 
which Watt is perhaps the most conspicuous, the 
practical apphcation has been so rapid and so gainful, 
as to procure a large reward to the discoverer ; but 
it would be just as idle to overlook the fact, that an 
amount of labour, a putting forth of superior power, 
is contributed by them to the joint capital of national 
and human efficiency, altogether impossible to be 
accounted for by the inducements which society holds 
out to their sense of personal interest. I say not 
merely look to the pittance of men like John Dalton, 
or the voluntary starvation of men like the late Graff, 
the Grerman lexicographer ; but compare what is con- 
sidered as competency or affluence by your Faradays, 
Liebigs, and Herschells, with the expected results of 
a successful hfe of commercial enterprise : then com- 
pare the amount of mind put forth, the work done 
for society in either case ; and you will be constrained 
to allow that the former belong to a sort of workers, 
who, properly speaking, are not paid, and cannot be 
paid, for their work ; as indeed it is of a sort to 
which no payment could stimulate. 

As, then, we have seen exemplified in this class of 


labourers the paradox, that while their work is that 
in which immediate utihty is the least considered, it 
is also that which is ultimately most useful ; in them, 
too, we find exhibited another paradox, that, the nature 
of their duties disqualifying them for the care of 
their own interest, and their products being indeed 
without any immediate marketable value, the care 
of their interest, to the extent at least of an ade- 
quate provision for the continuance of their labours, 
becomes the concern of the community. Your pro- 
vision, then, for the highest investigations of pm-e 
mathematics, is your provision for actual and future 
engineering, sm'veying, statistics, timekeeping, navi- 
gation, — the list you can extend at your pleasure ; 
your provision for philosophical chemistry is your 
provision for dyeing, agriculture, the pubhc and private 
care of health, and indeed, what not, among the 
economic arts ; your provision for a large and exact 
literature and philology, is your provision for that 
commerce with past ages and remote peoples, whose 
imports are so essential to all the uses of life, and 
make a nation truly a member of the great com- 
munity of mankind ; without which, indeed, it is 
stranded and islanded in time, shut up to a narrowness 
of resources which it is happily impossible for us to 
conceive. For these, and the like ends, a university 
education among a people is provided. 

But again, we have seen that the vocation of the 

scholar in hterature and in science implies a specific 

disposition, what in its highest examples is called a 

genius, but must, in a measure, exist in the humblest, 


226 A. J. SCOTT, M.A. 

even in those who co-operate only as depositories and 
distributors. Every specific inward impulse is defined 
by its congenial good. The congenial good of the 
scholar lies in the truth, beauty, and excellence of 
ideas ; in plainer words, it is enjoyed by knowing and 
contemplating. If others cannot sympathize with 
this, that were no reason for its not being sought 
after. The name of usefulness is much apt to beguile 
men here. We have shown how useful is this call- 
ing, even for such things as no man doubts to be ser- 
viceable. But were it not so, were one to ask of 
what use is your knowledge of the starry heavens ? 
Of what use is your Sanscrit, your poetry, yom' dia- 
lectics ? Ask again, of what use is your champagne, 
yom' silken hangings, your account at your bankers ? 
It is answered, I like them, or like others to admire 
them. But, I like them, is as good and as honest an 
answer for the tastes and requu*ements of the intel- 
lect, as for those of the palate. One is no more 
obhged, as a prehminary to satisfying these appetites, 
fii'st to prove to others the reahty of their objects, 
than to forbear enjoying music till he has made it 
demonstrable to a deaf man ; or to suppress his 
dehghted exclamations at the beauty of the prismatic 
colom's, till he has made impossible the increduhty 
of the blind. But, alas, there is one great difference. 
The deaf man verily knows that he is deaf ; the bhnd 
man that he is bhnd ; or rather, the humiliation of 
confessing our defect is unavoidable as to the physical 
perceptions, whereas men can and wiU brave it out 
in regard to the higher senses of the intelligence. 


Still it may be asked, are not certain things, as for 
example a convenient equipage, and above all, a good 
account at one's bankers, of use, distinguishable from 
mere immediate enjoyment ? No doubt, of great and 
manifold use, especially the latter. But these things, 
or anything else, can be good in but two ways, as 
means or as an end ; good for something else, or good 
for itself. The account at the bankers is, I suppose , 
chiefly good for something else ; for what it com- 
mands. So far, then, its value to any man is the 
pleasure or the intrinsic advantage to him of what 
this enables him to have, or be, or do ; and nothing 
farther. In like manner, if we set aside the pleasm^e 
of being driven in a handsome carriage, and the com- 
placency of calhng it ours, the good of it is m the 
facility and saving of strength, with which it conveys 
us from place to place ; and in this case, too, its worth 
as means, is precisely the worth of the ends which it 
brings within reach ; and not a hair-breadth more. 
It is tiresome, perhaps, to insist on so plain a point ; 
but it is needful to remind men that usefulness is the 
attribute of means, not of ends ; and that there must 
be a value above usefulness, as ends are above means. 
This is the goodness of a thing in itself. The rehsh 
of food, the smell of a rose, the sweetness of music, 
the contemplation of truth, aye, the peace of a man's 
conscience ; these are instances, higher and lower, of 
that which is good, apart altogether from its being 
useful. But a thing is useful which procures me any 
one of these. And this establishes, too, that there 
could be no usefulness, if there were no other good 

228 A. J. SCOTT, M.A. 

than usefulness ; that means would have no value, 
were there no ends worth seeking for their own single 
sake ; and, to come home to our immediate object, 
that useful knowledge is not necessarily the highest 
kind of knowledge, nor usefulness its highest quahty. 
A man may show no deficiency of judgment, who, 
while he reads the newspaper as a means to ends, 
some of them small enough, regards as an end in 
itself, and not of the smallest, the communion of his 
spirit with that of a great ancient, and of a great 
people ; even were it that of the Athenians, and of 

Once more, the man is measm'ed by his congenial 
good. He is higher or lower in the scale of humanity, 
not at all according to his command of the means of 
pleasm'e, nor the keenness of his rehsh and uninter- 
ruptedness of his enjoyment, but according to its 
source. The dustman, or coalheaver, whose wages 
give him food and clothes, and extend also to the 
congenial good of tobacco and potent beer, stands in 
his actual condition in another region from that of 
Howard or of Newton, inasmuch as the end he is 
content and qualified to pursue is a lower one. He 
commands it as amply, pursues it as steadily, dehghts 
in it as absolutely ; but by laws immutable and eter- 
nal as humanity, it is lower in itself, and he is lower 
along with it. 

Indeed, a distribution, not practically useless, of 
men's pursuits might be made, according to the very 
different degree in which the possession of the end 
accompanies the production or employment of the 


means. The toolmaker, for example, the man who 
lays down a railway, the manufacturer, the stock- 
broker and banker above all, are, in the exercise of 
their business, conversant with the production or 
accumulation of means, and means alone. Usefulness 
is the proper attribute of such employments, precisely 
because they can aspire no higher, because their 
objects do not, and cannot pretend to the distinction 
of being good in themselves, but are only good for 
something. The artist belongs to another class. The 
musician, for example, is not, like the maker of flutes 
or piano-fortes, conversant with the means only of 
musical enjoyment, but with the enjoyment of music 
itself. For himself and for others, that attracts and 
occupies him. He finds his end in the means. If 
he ceased to do so, no practice, no miracles of execu- 
tion, will save him from ranking with artizans, not 
with artists. But if otherwise, it is this direct occu- 
pation with the end which gives him a higher place, 
within his own department, than the mere producer 
of means. This places the player or singer above the 
musical mechanic ; but these, again, are but as in- 
struments, relatively to the composer or musical poet. 
With the end, with the life and spirit of music, he is 
directly engaged. His place is, therefore, not onlj^ 
highest in his art, but among those who have a simi- 
larly central position in reference to all the great arts. 
He sits with Phidias and the poets of form, with 
Titian and the poets of colour, with Dante and 
Shakspeare and the poets of speech — every man 
after his measure. And so the man of science, of 

230 A. J. SCOTT, M.A. 

literature, of philosophy, stands not upon the useful- 
ness of his pursuit, as do their subordinates, who are 
occupied with the means towards these several ends, 
or with their applicability'' to other ends, but upon 
its intrinsic worth and nobleness. His main business 
is with the good that is in it, not with the good that 
it is for. 

With knowledge, then, and especially with the 
higher and deeper knowledge, it is as in the case of 
the bodily senses. What has more obvious, large 
and important vses, than the eye ? But when sight 
is lost, these are not the benefits most regretted. 
Milton, describing the Hebrew champion, — 

Blind among enemies, worse than chains, 
Dungeon, or beggarj-, or decrepit age : 

while he represents him as lamenting bitterly the 
other evils to which he is thus subjected, 

Dark in liglit, exposed 
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong. 
Within doors or without, stHl as a fool 
In power of others, never in my own : 

yet makes all this secondary to the privation of the 
blessedness of seeing for the mere sight's sake. 

dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, 

Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse, 

Without aU hope of day ! 

first created beam, and thou great word 

" Let there be light," and light was over aU ; 

Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree ? 

The Sim to me is dark 

And silent as the moon. 

When she deserts the night, 

Hid in her vacant interhmar care. 

And when the great blind man, in strains that recur 


SO often, not too often, to our ears and lips, laments 
in his own person the same calamity, it is not that 
another must take him by the hand to cross the 
street, that another must carve his food, or even that 
he can read only by the eyes of others, hardships and 
sore obstructions as these are, but he mourns that 

Not to him returns 
Day, the sweet approach of even or morn, 
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose, 
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine. 

Finding thus — Wisdom at one entrance quite shut 
out, to him no consolation is adequate but the hope 
of the light that shines inward, and the mind through 
all her powers irradiates. So were it with all of us. 
It is good to have the guidance of our sight ; but yet 
more exquisitely " Light is good, and it is a pleasant 
thing for the eye to behold the sun." 

Because, then, scholarship nourishes all the arts 
of life, to which it is as the hidden moisture of the 
ground is to the produce of our fields, because it 
brings the mind in free contact with one of its higher 
appropriate goods, because it is the imtrition and 
development of faculties in man, without whose 
exercise he is less and lower than he ought to be ; 
therefore it is well that countenance and encourage- 
ment should be given by society to that higher 
scholarship, which is the object of university educa- 
tion. The presence of some who are dedicated to it 
cannot fail to tell on an entire national hfe. I have 
all along supposed that their chief aim professionally 
is study itself. On this I am disposed to lay not a 

232 A. J. SCOTT, M.A. 

little stress. The highest teaching can never he that 
of him whose chief business is to teach. Socrates, 
Plato, and Aristotle were resorted to, not because 
they had made teaching their business, but because 
they were believed to make philosophy their business. 
Look at the eagerness with which men in om^ own 
time run to be taught by any one who has dedicated 
himself to know and understand that of which he is 
to speak ; Scheiling or Liebig, De Candolle or Guizot, 
LyaU or Faraday. It may happen that he is defec- 
tive in the mechanism of the instructor. I have 
Ivnown it so ; though it be rarer than is commonly 
supposed. Even then, from the master in any know- 
ledge, something is to be caught that no other can 
impart. And if he have also in any measure the 
special gifts of a teacher, all will come forth from 
him with a hfe and love, with a power, a fulness and 
freshness, which you will look for in vain from the 
man whose main business you make it to communi- 
cate, and not to possess something worth communi- 
cating. Accordingly, a college is originally a pro- 
vision for study and contemplation. In all the older 
colleges of Europe the endowment is for a life of 
study, whether in its commencement or in its matu- 
rity : the teaching is secondary. Xot that communi- 
ties are to be regardless of the impartation ; but the 
chief portion of such care must be exercised over that 
which is to be imparted. He who learns from one 
occupied in learning, drinks of a running stream. 
He who learns from one who has learned all he is to 
teach, drinks " the green mantle of the stagnant 


pool." To catch information is something ; to catch 
the Hfe and spirit of the pursuit and contemplation 
of truth, is infinitely more. The one you may get 
from him whose own studies are a hortus siccus; the 
other from him only whose knowledge is a garden of 
living plants, putting forth fruits in their seasons, 
changing their aspect as they grow. The existence 
of such men is communicative. Their manner of 
heing leavens that which is around them, even an 
entire people. The more of free animated scholar- 
ship there exists anywhere, the more will it assuredly 
diffuse itself, by conversation and books, in its pure 
and systematic forms, and in the aids of theoretic in- 
sight ajfforded to those engaged in practice. But 
where the highest style of formal instruction is to be 
regularly provided for, it follows from our principles 
that it should be confided to those who are to dedicate 
themselves to the mastery and advancement of their 
several branches of knowledge. This seems to be the 
definition of the professor, as distinguished from the 
minister of the earlier education. 

The special recipients of university teaching will 
naturally be those, firstly, who devote themselves to 
that search after truth which furnishes the first idea 
of university education ; then, those whose vocation 
requires for its due discharge the general culture of 
mind and character, which demands such education 
for its completeness, — that is, the learned professions, 
emphatically so called ; those whose future vocation 
requires the applying of principles belonging to science 
and the higher hterature ; along with all who are to 

234 A. J. SCOTT, M.A. 

possess leisure and ample means, without imagining 
that these things exempt from responsihility, or that 
they are in themselves all-sufficient to the well-being 
of a human mind and soul. Such are, in a country 
like ours, among the most important pubHc fimction- 
aries, whether formally appointed or not. They ex- 
ercise a social influence, which is limited or extended, 
and in all ways affected, for good or evil, by the man- 
ner and measure of their education in its highest stage. 
But if such men think only of the dignified enjoyment 
of their wealth, they will remember how much this 
depends on the same conditions. Books and pictures 
the rich man has ; stores of dehght they would be to 
the poor scholar or artist ; to him insipid and empty, 
unless his mind be opened. The best things which 
money and station can command are, I suppose, con- 
versation and travelling ; and these are to every one 
in exact proportion to the mind he brings to them. 
One meets with worthy people heartily glad to escape 
from Eome, for example, because that great monu- 
ment of the world is to them a book all in an unknown 
tongue ; because it appeals to sympathies which theii- 
education has left dormant. Half the cost of some 
great journeys, expended on mental preparation, in- 
stead of couriers and equipages, might have made 
their pleasure and their profit tenfold. I shall never 
forget one whom I met many years ago at Zug, in 
Switzerland ; a man mild and refined, as if by nature, 
who greatly dehghted in the natural beauty and sub- 
limity around us, but seemed to feel it quite an escape 
from the cities of the Rhine, of which he was weary. 


"But the Rhine," said my companion, "is so full 
of historical interest." The stranger's countenance 
clouded as he said, " To you it may be : to me all 
that is a blank." 

But it is time to remember that you may, not un- 
reasonably, think I have said too much, while I am 
painfully conscious of having said too little. I have 
tried to set forth to you the inestimable services of 
that higher knowledge of which colleges are the des- 
tined conservators ; the dependence of those services 
on the free pm'suit of knowledge, mifettered by con- 
siderations of immediate application to use : the in- 
trinsic worth of study, apart from all its utility. I 
have sought to show that it belongs to the region 
above that of demand and supply in the market, and 
that certain of its essential qualities are recognized, 
and that a due homage is done to them, by perma- 
nent provision for its maintenance irrespectively of 
that law. Where these qualities are so far ignored 
that this knowledge is put to the test of the counter, 
and held to be good so far and no farther than it will 
sell, you may do as is done in America, where senates 
of universities are gravely deliberating whether the 
lore of scientific method and primeval learning is not 
to be abandoned, and dii-ectly profitable instructions 
as in agriculture or commerce, substituted in its 
place : that is, whether university education shall 
not cease. America can afford to do this, not with- 
out loss, but she can afford to do it, and why ? Seas 
and revolutions are between us, but speech, and books, 
and remembrances make us one people. Oxford and 

236 A. J. SCOTT, M.A. 

Cambridge are felt there, as they are in Manchester. 
But, in time, perhaps, America will feel that for her 
is needed a new diffusion, nay, to meet her special 
wants, a new modification, of that mental culture 
which the older universities, here, supply under Hmits 
of number and of form. May I be allowed to sup- 
pose that Manchester akeady feels this ? 






Delivered m tM Queen Street Hall, November 1, ISoO. 

With reference to two of the course of lectures 
which are to be dehvered on this occasion, those 
by Professor Nichol and Principal Scott, namely, 
on the astronomy and the geology of the period, 
and on its mental philosophy and Hterature, I 
wish to make some observations. In highest 
favour now are the mathematical sciences — pure 
mathematics — the intellectual faculties abstracting 
themselves from everything without, and proceeding 
upon the pui-est notions of space and time, they 
exhibit those phenomena, extraordinary it wiU be 
thought, in a finite creature — that they are founded 
on infaUible evidence — that they are perfectly and 
entu'ely true. While, therefore, the metaphysician 
regai'ds those sciences with admiration and with 
reverence, as exhibiting the variety of the human 
faculties, which, without them it could not have been 


supposed these faculties possessed, and the more if 
the metaphysician himself be, which has sometimes 
happened, a proficient in those sciences, feeling that 
he stands a boundless, shadowless, and wide horizon 
upon the sphere of truth. It was held by some of 
the ancient philosophers — by Pythagoras — that 
numerical quantities constituted the harmony of 
the universe ; and unquestionably the apphcation of 
those pure sciences does penetrate and reveal to us 
the mysteries, so far as they may be revealed, of 
God's universe. We had at first an illumination, I 
may say a sea, of light. We have now a substantial 
and an illuminated creation from other wisdom than 
that of Pythagoras, when it was said — " In number, 
height, and measure. Thou hast made them all." 
We have, therefore, as the glory of this age, pure 
mathematics mainly unfolded ; and we have the 
physical sciences, of which they are the quickening 
soul. What may be greater than this ? This is 
greater — that we know that all this is but a part of 
our knowledge, and we know what part it is. If the 
external world is but the occasion of men's knowing 
their own souls, and of knowing the Maker of the 
world ; and if he knows not that — if he sees not the 
order and the harmony prevalent throughout the 
whole creation ; he may know all else — all that 
science can ever reach — and yet be ignorant in com- 
parison with the poor Indian who 

"Sees God in clouds and hears him in the wind," 

proving that he is a greater proficient in the laws of 
truth than the greatest philosopher. We are to know, 


then, that the external world is but an occasion of 
the mind for unveiling its faculties — we are to know 
that it is but an accident for the mind, and that the 
mind is not an accident for it. We are to know, 
that our first intuitions are realities — as real as the 
objects of the external world, and we ai-e never to 
forget that it is by such investigations we acquire a 
knowledge of ourselves — that is, of our own souls. 
It was sublimely said by Kant, the great German 
philosopher, that there are two infinitudes open to 
every human being — the starry heavens above our 
head, and another infinitude within our souls. Into 
the former it is the business of science to go ; and 
into that other infinitude within om' own bosoms it 
is also the business of another science to go, and the 
farther we go, the more we are assured that it is the 
more magnificent and sublime. The telescope of the 
elder, not the greater Herschel — solved, I may say, 
those stellar clouds which, before his time, were to 
the naked eye confused groups of which nothing was 
known : and the more powerful telescope of Lord 
Rosse, which soared far higher into those abysses, 
had resolved those nebulae which now are known to 
be suns and systems : and if there be another instru- 
ment with double the powers of his, then again will 
those nebulsB, those dim nebulae, be dim nebulae no 
more ; but they will be suns and systems, revealing 
to our astonished and worshipping gaze the further 
power of the Creator. But we may be well assured 
of this — that go as far as we may, still are we . but 
entering upon infinitude — we should feel that we are 


as yet but upon the very borders of creation, and 
that we must veil our faces and bow down still in 
devotion to the Almighty maker. Now, the question 
is, can we — can those who are altogether unable to 
pursue those investigations by which such grand 
discoveries are made, be put in possession of those 
results which are apprehensible, and at the same time 
are calculated to exalt and raise the mind ? We 
maintain that they are, and that aU that can exalt 
the imagination, or exalt the reason, may, by those 
who are able to expound in adequate language those 
wonderful sights, be raised to their nature as intellec- 
tual beings, and also to their nature as moral beings. 
For let us only consider for a moment what each of 
ourselves has experienced upon our gradual progress 
in science, even although that science may, perhaps, 
in the eyes of philosophers, scarcely be entitled to 
the name. We have all of us in our youth been in- 
terested by the appearances of order — for that is 
visible to the uninstructed eye — among all the 
heavenly bodies. But although those impressions 
have constituted a great part of our happiness, they 
have been felt as expanding our intellects, and also as 
ennobling our nature ; but when the astronomer has 
taught us, he only has known a language more gram- 
matically and more profoundly than we have done. 
He enables us to read some sections or some chapters 
of that book — of that mighty scroU which is still ex- 
panding before the eyes of men, and of which many 
unsatisfactory glimpses must necessarily be thought 
to awe our faculties. Now, I can appeal to one work 


as corroborative of what I now say, and as in itself 
removing any objection that may be urged against 
what are called merely popular lectures on such a 
subject — a work by a man of the highest intellectual 
power, of the highest fame in the world — the hero, I 
may say, of the sciences — Alexander Von Humboldt. 
I may speak of the Cosmos, in which he endeavours 
to show the harmony and the unity of creation — how 
they all obey certain laws of affinity, and how there- 
fore, it is entitled to be called the Cosmos. That 
book is a handbook of science ; but, unHke other 
manuals, which are addressed to the tyro, and which 
may be studied upwards, his manual is addressed to 
masters, and calls upon them, in order to comprehend 
and to understand it with all the stores of their know- 
ledge and all the powers of their science ; and yet, at 
the same time, such is the hold which it has taken 
upon the public mind, that translation after transla- 
tion has been made in this country ; so that it seems, 
if it is not comprehensible to much of the ordinary- 
minds, as he himself declares to be his intention — ^it 
is comprehensible to men of education, whatever 
their profession may be — to men who retiring from 
the duties of active life, may be enabled by his means 
to comprehend something, and to comprehend more 
and more of the constitution of the universe. The 
learned Professor then passed a high eulogium upon 
the character and qualifications of Humboldt^ and 
upon the tendencies of his invaluable work, and pro- 
ceded to remark — Now, perhaps, I am right in saying 
that the very term scientific or science is apt to deter 



persons who are not scientific, or to prevent them 
from daring to hope that they are able to compre- 
hend the subject matter of the sciences. But what 
nearer can there be to a human being than the subject 
matter of the Cosmos ? It is our home. We may 
feel, perhaps, as exiles from a foreign land ; that it is 
but a transitory habitation. But here we hve ; we 
are bound to it by our affections — we are bound to it 
by our passions — we are bound to it by the myste- 
rious associations of power and of greatness, of beauty 
and of sublimity, and by aU that most elevates us, in 
the ordinary relations of life. Here we are born, and 
here do we expect that we shall be bmied. There- 
fore the study is, has been from the earliest yeai-s, 
more of a scientific study than we may imagine, and 
we are better prepared at least, to foUow all who, 
with adequate power of expression, and with adequate 
knowledge, are able to illuminate our minds with 
their power. But Kant says that there is another 
infinitude within our own bosom. Of that we can all 
ask ourselves what we have been able to discover 
there — whether there, too, will be discovered a 
Cosmos — or whether, while order and love pei'vade 
the physical and outward creation, there is nothing 
but disorder, confusion, and chaos within ? That is 
not the answer of the philosophers. That there are 
laws of mind as sure and immutable as there are laws 
in the material world, we are all well assured ; but 
we have not here instruments to use ; our knowledge 
dees not depend upon the excellency of our insti'u- 
ments — we have no telescopes here, and no way of 


discovery either which was not in the possession of 
the earhest of mankind. Can we hope, then, to 
penetrate into that infinitude — can we hope to see 
there, as in that other, the proofs of order and of the 
law, not only of the omnipotence but of the goodness 
and the mercy of our Maker f We can ; we are 
assui'ed that there are laws of the conscience — that 
there are laws of the affections and of the passions — 
that there are laws of duty, of virtue, of happiness, 
which if we know them and obey them, our own soul 
shall be in itself as noble, as lovely, as magnificent a 
cosmos as the starry heaven a,bove our heads. But 
we meet with difficulties insufferable — difficulties 
greater, I do not hesitate to say, than the astronomer 
has to encounter in his journey through the starry 
sphere. For what is it now that we have to con- 
template ? Each discoverer, each contemplator, has 
to contemplate himself, to contemplate mankind in 
himself and through himself. What other means 
has he to become acquainted with life ? But every 
man has his own individuality — he has his own 
specialities ; and thus, if he is to believe that he is 
the representative of humanity at large, he would be 
libelling his species, and be misunderstanding alto- 
gether the intention of his creation and of the provi- 
dence of God. But independently of that, supposing 
that any man was to endeavom' to give a cosmos of 
the human soul, how shall he be able to know all the 
thoughts that pass through the mind of every other 
individual — of all the different peoples in the earth — 
as circumstanced by -climate, by government, and by 


the different conditions and aspects of society ? By 
what insight into the soul of man as it is spread over 
the universe, shall he be enabled to draw such a picture 
as to show the constant, the steady, and the regular 
operation of certain laws ? He may be a hero, and 
may understand courage. He may be a patriot, and 
understand patriotism. He may be a saint even, and 
know to indulge in his prayers in his own cell as a 
hermit or an ascetic — and he should vainly suppose 
that that is a reflection of mankind at large, or that 
he has advanced one inch, perhaps, in the investiga- 
tion of the general laws of nature or the estabhshment 
of cosmos in the providence of God. And how many 
difficulties has he to encounter from the institutions 
of men, and from the operation of those institutions ! 
He has lived, perhaps, all his life, or a great part of 
it, under the domination of imposed opinions, of im- 
posed doctrines, or dogmas ; and if he was to be in- 
spired with a desire to speak the truth, and yet if he 
was running counter to what was most holy and 
sacred in his soul, perplexed as he would be by the 
dogmas and sectaries of religion, or by the sects 
of philosophical schools, would these not make him 
no longer master of his own soul ? But further, 
it has been well remarked by Professor Brown, that 
the idea of an emotion or passion partakes in some 
measure of the emotion or passion's self, so that there 
is something of trouble or disquiet in all our ideas of 
the emotions of the mind ; and when, therefore, we 
come to reconsider these emotions with the view of 
putting them in philosophical order, or with the view 


of understanding exactly what they are, and the laws 
which guide them, we are at once in a certain degree 
and in some states of the soul, apt to receive false 
and weak impressions, contrary to the truth. And 
here allow me to remark, that the ancient philoso- 
phers and mathematicians and men of science, res- 
pecting the material universe, have often been the 
cause of increasing those difficulties to which I have 
alluded, by demanding of the mental philosopher the 
method of treatment which they had found successful 
in their own investigations, but which were altogether 
inapplicable and totally misapplied when they are 
made use of in this other region of nature. I allude 
to such great men even as Liebnitz, Clarke, and many 
other inferior names, who have endeavoured to carry 
to the moral and mental investigation the same rule 
and the same method which they themselves success- 
fully applied to the material xmiverse. They have 
formulas for the composition of water — for the more 
illusive agencies of the voltaic battery ; they are able 
to chain in the fetters of measure the storms that 
march over the waves of the Atlantic, and that over- 
whelm the forests on either side ; they are able even 
to compute and weigh the lightning which destroys 
the works of man — they are able to know all these, 
and to put them down in their philosophy as accredited, 
acknowledged, and assured truths ; but let them en- 
deavour to apply the same method of investigation 
to the emotions of the soul, and see what they are — 
see how the}'" appear when they apply the measure, 
see how they are able to find language to express 


that application, so that it shall be intelligible to the 
ordinary sons of men ; let them so endeavour to 
measure the affection of the mother, the passion of 
the lover, the remorse of the murderer, the aspira- 
tions of the martyr, and then they will feel that they 
are entering a world that will not submit to it — 
which is not susceptible of such treatment ; and, not- 
withstanding theu' powerful agencies in any other 
department, they will find that they are doing the 
converse of what was done of old, when man endea- 
voured to apply to matter the ideas of mind. Now, 
it may be asked, how does speculation, how does 
theory, supposing erroneous speculation, erroneous 
theory — how can that affect man's happiness r I 
believe that it may affect it — surely must affect it — 
either most beneficially or most dis^trously. For 
what domain of the soul is insensible to the influence 
of good theory or of bad theory on the subject of 
morals ? It is true that there is a power in nature 
wliich, in the great majority of any civilized society, 
protects itself. There are innate affections which are 
not easily to be overcome, and there is that blessed 
ordination of trial which protects the general mind 
in a great measure against erroneous or deleterious 
theories ; but unquestionably their operation comes 
one day or other, and infects the public mind far 
more than at first you may imagine. Now, if it was 
asked whether the knowledge of the human mind — 
of our moral and intellectual nature — had increased 
or was increasing in any degree like the advance of 
physical science, the answer must be that they are 


not. But if one, writing to ascertain the progress 
which the physical sciences have made, were to com- 
pare them with what has been done in the kingdom 
of mind, he must not compare all that has been done 
in physical science, and their books in the hbraries, 
with the works merely of the few great metaphy- 
sicians that have existed. No, they must take a 
wider view of the subject ; and when you speak of 
the libraries of the physical sciences, you must place 
against them the histories of all nations, and the 
histories of all distinguished individuals. You must 
set against them the works of the theologians, of the 
jurists, of the enHghtened men who have written on 
the economy of empires, and the works of philologists, 
who have dealt with the signs and exponents of 
thought ; you must also place along with them the 
works of the poets, of the sculptors, the works of all 
countries, and of men who have dealt with the arts of 
imagination — no small province, surely, of the human 
soul : and having collected aU these books with the 
view of comparing them with the works that have 
been produced on natural science, then, methinks, 
that the hbrary of mind will show with somewhat 
more dignity and more power than the Hbrary of the 
material sciences. I say, all the works of the divine, 
for have they not always, and in every country, passed 
their lives in the investigation of most important 
truth, and awfal truth, of the most awful mysteries 
of our spiritual being ? Have they done nothing to 
show the nature of the ordinary laws by which 
happiness and holiness are inseparable ? They have ; 


but it is too much the fashion now-a-days to restrict 
all that has been written on the mind to those who 
have assumed to themselves the name of mental 
philosophers, and to exclude from that high appella- 
tion others who are far better entitled to it, and who 
have made far greater and more important additions 
to the knowledge of our moral and intellectual being. 
Many speak of the wonderful enhghtenment and 
advancement of the human mind in this the nine- 
teenth century, and to hear them speak you think 
that aU wisdom and that all virtue were concentrated 
not only in the middle of the nineteenth century, but 
in them, the men, as they call themselves, of the 
nineteenth century. Every thoughtful man, however, 
must reverence the past. We must reverence the 
past as we reverence our father and our mother. We 
are descended from the generations before us, and we 
may partake of their virtues as we may partake also 
of their vices ; but as we honour our parents, in spite 
of aU that may be wrong in them, so must we still 
have a regard for the generations that have gone 
before us because from it we are sprung. Let us, 
then, cherish the memory of all who have laboured 
well and successfully to elevate the more honourable 
and generous faculties and qualities of the soul over 
the meaner and more contemptible. Let us think of 
great heroes — of martyrs for the truth — of those 
who by their death, if death was necessary, founded 
or helped to found or to secure our hberties, those 
hberties which we now enjoy ; and let us apply it to 
the history of our own country, and to the judgment 


which we form of the qualities of our own country- 
men. Let us think of the lovers of truth, of the 
old reformers, and of the lovers of patriotism. Then, 
let us remember the Bruce of Bannockbum, that the 
Enghsh remember for ever as their own Runnymede. 
Are we, then, lovers of knowledge ? Are we lovers 
of personal independence ; do we possess them ; do 
we possess liberty ? Are our soldiers brave — are our 
sailors armed, not afraid to face the battle or the 
storm ; ai'e our fields and our cities consecrated by 
the sound of the church-going bell ? Whatever 
virtues of old still survive among us, let us remember 
that they were transmitted by our countrymen, that 
they are our birthright ; and let us endeavour, by 
generous aspirations and high thoughts, and, above 
all, by the discharge of all the duties incumbent upon 
us, to transmit them to another generation, and to 
latest posterity. 





Delivered Thursday, April 12, 1827. 

Students, — I return you my best thanks for your 
having done me the honour of electing me to the 
situation in which I now address you — the greatest 
honour that was ever conferred upon me. It may 
easily be imagined that I cannot speak to you at this 
moment without experiencing considerably strong 
sensations. If but to revisit these courts, and to look 
from the windows of this Hall, suffice to make its 
surrounding objects teem to me with the recollection of 
ancient friendships and of early associates — some of 
them your fathers — how much more deeply must I 
be touched to find myself surrounded by the coim- 
tenances of a young and rising generation, by whose 
favour I have been invited to the spot of my birth, 
and to this our venerated University. I throw 
myself on the candoar of aU around me, not to mis- 


construe this expression of my natural feelings into 
the language of self-complacency. If, indeed, I could 
come to this place with any such froward feeling, or 
in any frame of mind but that of unfeigned diffidence, 
the solemn associations which this bench inspires — 
the images of revered instructors — and of great 
departed men that hallow it to our memory — the 
Genius of the Place itself would overawe and rebuke 
me back into humihty. — No one is better aware than 
myself of the accidental prejudices that mixed with 
the partiality which called me hither ; at the same 
time, is it not right that I should be grateful for the 
kindly prejudices of young hearts, free in their 
choice, disinterested in their motives, and ingenuous 
from their years ? Your favour was such as I could 
not have commanded with power, nor purchased with 
wealth ; and, believe me, I value it accordingly. 
Students, I am not barely entitled, I am bound, to 
hail and to hold you as my friends. An alumnus of 
your own Alma Mater, and one taught by experience 
to sympathize with all the hopes, and objects, and 
fears, and difficulties of a Student, I can speak to 
you with the cordial interest of fellowship and fra- 

If I shall presume to express this interest, in the 
shape of a few words of well-meant advice to you, on 
the subject of your studies, believe me that I do so 
from having no other mode of showing my regard for 
you, than by following a custom which has now 
become half official ; and that I am not unconscious 
of tendering what may be called a service of superer- 


ogation, in giving you advice here, where you possess 
the far abler counsel of the learned and respectable 
men, your habitual instructors, at whose side I have 
now the honour of addressing you. This University 
has been clothed with respectability by the eminence 
of its teachers, and attentiveness to their precepts is, 
I take it for granted, an indelible part of your 
academical character. 

But if I should only repeat to you truths which 
you have already heard from them, what I say cannot 
efface those truths from your minds, and it may, by 
some possibility, tend to aid your recollection of 
them, owing to the casual novelty of the circumstan- 
ces under which you hear them repeated : for an 
accident of time or place will often influence our 
associations, in the absence of more solid claims to 
attention on the part of a speaker. 

Students, I congratulate you on being the denizens 
of an ancient, an honoured, and a useful University 
— one of those institutions that have contributed to 
the moralisation of modern man. It was mainly 
through her Universities, that northern Europe, at 
least, first learnt to distinguish between the blessed 
light of religion, and the baleful gleams and false 
fervours of bigotry. No doubt the benighted Euro- 
pean ages had views of Heaven and Futurity, that 
strongly rayed on the human imagination, and 
kindled its zeal. But it was a light unblessed, and 
portentous of crimes and cruelties that sullied the 
face of the earth, and only aggravated the terrors 
of mental darkness. 


Non secus ac liquida si quando nocte cometae 
Sangtiinei lugubre rubent ; aut Sirius ardor; 
Ille sitim morbosque ferens mcrtalibus segris, 
Nascitur, et laevo contristat lumine coeluin. 

It is well known that when Superstition had 
walked abroad over Christendom, had forged the seal 
of Religion, had stolen her vestments, and, though a 
fiend, had counterfeited her sacred resemblance, 
human learning was commissioned by Providence to 
unmask the goblin imposter. Wickliff from Oxford 
gave the signal of detection to Bohemia ; and from 
Germany the spirit of reformation came back to our 
own shores. Among Universities, it is true, our own 
is far from being one of the most ancient ; yet it 
preceded the Reformation, and, whatever might be the 
fluctuating incidents in the chapter of history, it 
contributed to the Reformation ; for wherever learn- 
ing was — there also was a rallying point for the 
emancipation of human thought. 

The advantages of study which you possess in this 
University, I should be sorry to bring into invidious 
comparison with those of any other places of educa- 
tion, least of all with those of the great Universities 
that have educated the intellectual heroes of England's 
majestic race of men. Yet, without invidiousness, 
and without indelicacy, I may remark, that the 
circumstance of aU your Professors lecturing daily 
and regularly, is a feature of noble and inspiring 
usefulness in your tuitionary system, which might be 
imitated to their advantage, even by those grea'^ 
INSTITUTIONS. Among our teachers, too, we can 
look back to names in Literature and Science, that 


are above the need of praise, as they are above the 
reach of detraction : and the dynasty of Professorial 
talent, I make bold to predict, is not to degenerate. 
It is for you, however, my young friends, to recollect 
that neither the glory of dead men's names, nor the 
efforts of the ablest hving instructors, can maintain 
the honour of a University, unless the true spirit of 
scholarship animate the character, and pervade the 
habits of its students. 

The value of time and of youth, and the bitter fruits 
that result from mis-spendingthem, are truths so simple 
and obvious, that I fear, like the great tree in St. Paul's 
churchyard, about the existence of which so many 
wagers have been lost and won, they are sometimes in 
danger of being overlooked from their very famiharity. 
It would be easy indeed to invest these topics with a 
gloomy interest, by proving that the evils resulting 
from the lost opportunities of youth more or less 
cling to a man throughout his existence ; and that 
they must be, from their nature, greater in reality 
than they can be to the eye of common observation. 
For men do their best to disguise the punishment of 
a neglected education, or rather, to speak more tndy, 
the punishment disguises them. It hurries them 
away fi*om your sight, to be immolated in secret by 
mortification, to die in the shade of neglect, and to 
be buried in the shroud of oblivion. But it is not by 
appeahng to the ignoble principle of fear that we 
should teach the youthful bosom the value of its 
golden opportunities. A feeling still more honourable 
than even anxiety for reputation, namely, the desire 


of knowledge for its own sake, must enter into the 
motives of every man who successfully devotes him- 
self to mental improvement. For Learning is a 
proud mistress that will not be courted for your 
hopes of worldly profit by her dowry, nor for your 
ambition to be allied to her family, nor for the pride 
of showing her in pubHc, without the passion and 
devotion which you must bear to her sacred self. 

And the love of learning is natural to man. It 
springs from om' interest in this magnificent and 
mysterious creation, from our curiosity mth regard 
to truth, and even from our fondness for the airy 
colourings of fiction. Still, however natural the 
desu'e of instruction may be, it cannot be expected to 
attain all the strength and maturity of a passion, 
whilst om' intellectual natures are yet themselves 
immatm'e ; and, in the most ingenuous young minds, 
the vohtion for study may faU far short of their 
abstract conviction as to the value of knowledge. 
Voltaire has somewhere spoken of an astonishingly 
wise young hero, who seemed, he says, to have been 
born with experience, but alas, how very few of our 
heads come into the world furnished with that 
valuable material! And, precocious indeed, and born, 
we may say, with experience, must that juvenile 
intellect be, which, amidst the new sensations of Hfe 
and its early enjoyments, can antedate that day of 
devotion to study, when a man shall wait for a new 
book, or for new lights of information on any favour- 
ite subject, as eagerly as Avarice watches the fate of 
its lottery ticket, whilst the richest prizes yet remain 


in the wheel. But cherish the nascent principle of 
curiosity, and that day will come to you in good 
time, when study, instead of a duty, will become 
an agreeable habit ; and when it wiU yield you 
consolations and amusements beyond what it is 
conceivable, in the nature of things, that a young 
imagination can weU anticipate. Before those habits 
have been acquired, however, I suspect that young 
minds are sometimes beguiled into unwholesome 
hesitation, by disputes about the particular path of 
learning into which it is most advisable that they 
should first strike, and push on most vigorously. 
The general blessing of learning is no where disputed. 
It is agreed on all hands that knowledge is power, 
and that man is but what he knows. None but 
maniacs would lay the axe to the root of the tree ; 
and none but the most mischievous would propose 
tearing down any of its branches, though they may 
not bear fruits to their taste, or garlands to their 
honour. Scaliger has incurred only the contempt of 
posterity by his absurd diatribe against the useful- 
ness of Mathematics ; and neither Swift nor Johnson 
have much raised themselves in the estimation of wise 
men by having undervalued the Natural Sciences. 
For it is clear that those men were misled by over- 
weening vanity in their own pursuits, and by shallow- 
ness in those pursuits which they decried ; thus 
bringing into monstrous conjunction the pride of 
learning and the envy of ignorance. But although, 
in the present day, there may be few or no direct 
abohtionists as to any particular branch of knowledge, 


there is still a spirit of invidious comparison, and 
a spirit too, for the most part, harshly biassed against 
classical leai'ning, that may be frequently observed in 
discussions on the subject of education. I exhort 
you, my young friends^ not to trouble yourselves at 
all about such disputes ; but always to consider that 
branch of Science or Literature to be the most valu- 
able, which you have the best opportunity of most 
completely mastering. 

Of all the dangers to which the juvenile student is 
exposed, I hold those of over-confidence and temerity 
to be incomparably smaller than those of doubt and 
distrust. It is very true that a young mind, plung- 
ing prematurely into the depths of metaphysical 
research, before it has stored itself with a knowledge 
of useful facts, may be compared to one exploring the 
wheels of a watch, before he has learned to read the 
hours on its dial-plate. It is true, also, that pre- 
cocious attempts at fine writing, and at colouring 
language, before we have learned to give shape to 
our thoughts, have their disadvantages. Yet stiU, 
altogether, I tremble at the idea of damping the fire 
of youthful ambition ; for in the young student, as 
in the young soldier, the dashing and daring spirit is 
preferable to the listless. To the early aspirant at 
original composition — to the boy-poet — I should, 
therefore only say, Go on and prosper, but never 
forget, that in spite of random exceptions, Buchanan 
is right in the general principle, when in awarding 
immortality to mighty poets, he designates them by 
the epithet, leaeked. 



Sola doctorum monumenta Vatam 
Nesciunt Fati iniperium severi, 
Sola contemnunt Phlegethonta et Orel 
Jura superbi. 

The opposite feeling of the mind's distrust in its 
own powers, ought not to be too harshly and hastily 
set down as a token of mental debility in youth, 
for it is often connected with considerable talent. 
It is a faihng, however, that, if suffered to continue, 
will create all the effects of debility, and will dupe 
the mind to be the passive agent of its own degra- 
dation ; — like a juggling soothsayer contriving to 
make his prophecy fulfil itself, or a blundering 
physician verifying his ignorant opinion by despatch- 
ing the patient whom he has pronounced incurable. 
But, if to look abroad over the vast expanse and 
variety of learned pursuits, should appal and over- 
whelm any young imagination, like the prospect of 
a journey over Alps and Griaciers, let it dispel the 
unworthy fear, to recollect what guides, and lights, 
and facilities modern science and hterature afford, so 
that a quantum of information is now of compara- 
tively easy access, which would formerly have de- 
manded Herculean labour. 

As to those among you who may have the pros- 
pect of being only a short time at College, I trust I 
need not conjure you against the prejudice of hghtly 
estimating the value of a little learning, because you 
cannot acquire a great deal. If indeed we were to 
compare the value of much with that of Httle 
learning, there is no concession in favour of the 
iruch th. ' " "■ "■ ^^nt '"illinGflv make. — But in 


comparing small learned acquisitions with none at all, 
it appeal's to me to be equally absurd to consider a 
little learning valueless, or even dangerous, as some 
will have it, as to talk of a little virtue, a little 
wealth, or health, or cheerfulness, or a little of any 
other blessing under heaven, being worthless or 

To abjure any degree of information, because we 
cannot grasp the whole circle of the sciences, or 
sound the depths of erudition, appears to be just 
about as sensible as if we were to shut up our win- 
dows, because they are too narrow, or because the 
glass has not the magnifying power of a telescope. 

For the smallest quantity of knowledge that a man 
can acquire, he is bound to be contentedly thankful, 
provided his fate shuts him out from the power of 
acquiring a larger portion — but whilst the possibility 
of farther advancement remains, be as proudly dis- 
contented as ye will with a httle learning. For the 
value of knowledge is like that of a diamond, it 
increases according to its magnitude, even in much 
more than a geometrical ratio. One science and 
hterary pursuit throws Hght upon another, and there 
is a connection, as Cicero remarks, among them all. 
— "Omnes Artes, quae ad humanitatem pertinent, 
habent quoddam commune vinculum, et quasi cog- 
natione quadam inter se continentur." 

No doubt a man ought to devote himself, in the 
main, to one department of Imowledge, but still he 
will be all the better for making himself acquainted 
with the studies which are kindred to and congenial 


with that pursuit. — The principle of the extreme 
division of labour, so useful in a pin manufactory, if 
introduced into learning, may produce, indeed, some 
minute and particular improvements, but, on the 
whole, it tends to cramp human intellect. 

That the mind may, and especially in early youth, 
be easily distracted by too many pursuits, must be 
readily admitted. But I now beg leave to consider 
myself addressing those among you, who are conscious 
of great ambition, and of manly faculties ; and what 
I say, may regard rather the studies of your future 
than of your present years. 

To embrace different pursuits, diametrically oppo- 
site, in the wide circle of human knowledge, must be 
pronounced to be almost universally impossible for a 
single mind. But I cannot believe that any strong 
mind weakens its strength, in any one branch of 
learning, by diverting into cognate studies ; on the 
contrary, I beheve that it will return home to the 
main object, bringing back illustrative treasures from 
all its excm'sions into collateral pursuits. 

Let Science bear witness how many of her bright- 
est discoveries have been struck out by the coUision 
of analogy, and by original minds bringing one part 
of their vast information to consult and co-operate 
with another. — For a single study is apt to tinge 
the spirit with a single colour; whilst expansive 
knowledge irradiates it, from many studies, with the 
many-coloured hues of thought, till they kindle by 
their assemblage, and blend and melt into the white 
light of inspii'ation. Newton made history and 


astronomy illustrate each other; and Ricliter and 
Dalton brought mathematics to bear upon chemis- 
try, tiU science may now be said to be able to weigh 
at once an atom and a planet. I admit that this is 
quoting only mighty names to illustrate the value of 
general knowledge ; but all minds that are capable of 
extensive application, more or less experience its 
benefits, — for the strength of an active mind is not 
exhausted by dividing the objects of its attention, 
but refreshed and recruited, — it is not distracted by 
a variety of hghts, but directed by them ; and the 
stream of learned acquisition, instead of being in 
danger of becoming shallower by expansion, is ren- 
dered more profound. 

In hterature, I might quote the excursive taste of 
our Milton, our G-ray, our Warton, Hurd, and Sir 
William Jones among poetry beyond the classical 
field, to prove that the rule appHes to Hterature as 
well as to Science : but I have detained you a consi- 
derable time, and for the present must bid you adieu. 
I do so with a warm heart : and I hold it to be no 
profane illusion to the great and merciful Being who 
has given us all knowledge, and all mercies, to wish 
that His blessing may be with you. 






Delivered, Owens College, Manchestee, March 13, 185L 

In considering the place which classical learning 
ought to hold in a scheme of education, it may, I 
suppose, be assumed that by education is meant, not 
a mere preparation for some specific trade or profes- 
sion, but rather a preparation for the whole business 
of life, — a preparation which shall fit the student to 
till well his part as a member of a family, of a com- 
mercial or professional community, of society generally, 
and of a state. To furnish a complete education in 
all these senses is, of course, not within the range of 
any single institution; some portions of it, for 
instance, can only be supplied in the family circle to 
which each belongs ; others must be gained fi'om im- 
mediate intercourse with affairs, from the warehouse, 
the factory, the courts of law, the hospital, or the 
ship. To fit young men to enter at once on their 
several professions is not the function of a coUege for 


general education ; but to develop, in their due pro- 
portion, all the faculties of the man, that the student 
may be fitted to perform well each of those duties 
which belong to us all ; that he may be furnished, 
indeed, with all the learning that is wanting to enable 
him afterwards to acquire the knowledge specially 
necessary for his own pursuits ; but yet that he may 
be guarded against the danger of having his whole 
mind absorbed by those pm'suits ; to effect that he 
shall not be so mere a scholar as to look at every- 
thing through the dusty spectacles of the antiquary, 
or so ardent a manufacturer, or surgeon, or lawyer, as 
to regard his fellow-men mainly as subjects for the 
operation of the loom, the knife, or the statutes at 
large. It is not meant that no help is furnished in a 
collegiate education towards the various pursuits of 
affcer-Hfe : much may be done towards this directly, 
by lectures on statute and commercial law, on political 
economy, or on the principles of commerce ; and 
much more indirectly, by the knowledge acquired in 
the study of Hterature, of history, of mathematics and 
physics, of chemistry and the natural sciences. Still 
the main end of a liberal education is, not to furnish 
such special information, but so to discipline the reason, 
the imderstanding, and the taste, and so to strengthen 
the various powers of the mind, that when the student 
proceeds, thus disciplined and strengthened, to learn 
the use of the weapons needful for himself especially, 
he may acquire them most readily, and ever after- 
wards use them most worthily for himself, and most 
beneficially for the entire community. 


If this be the true end of education, it will be seen 
at once that the science of language must hold an 
important place in it. Language is the medium of 
intercourse between man and man ; the instrument, 
and almost the very form, of thought ; and how better 
can the young student be introduced to the study of 
the intellectual processes than by a minute analysis 
of some of the most elaborated languages that have 
ever been spoken ? Or how better can he learn to 
think accurately for himself than by the study of the 
exact meaning of words and phrases ? Yet, it may 
be asked, while the claims of language to form an 
essential part of education must be granted, why 
should the dead languages of G-reece and Eome be 
chosen for this purpose ? Why cannot we take, 
instead, some modern languages, which will be of 
practical use themselves, as well as a valuable instru- 
* ment for training ? To this question, so obvious, 
and, at first sight, so forcible, a careftd answer must 
be given : it should be shown that, while, on the one 
hand, the study of modern languages would prove an 
inferior discipline, so, on the other hand, it is not 
true that the languages and Hterature of those ancient 
nations are utterly ahen to us. These languages are 
a better instrument for training, because they are 
more elaborate in their processes of etymology and 
syntax, expressing by copious and multiform inflexion 
and composition what the languages of modem 
Europe express by mere juxtaposition of independent 
words. The permanence of theii' form, and the broad 
difference between them and our own tongues, increase 


their educational Tahie, as ikke attesttiiHi k more 
readily fixed on the phenomeiia of langns^e, wlieii tiie 
words embodying them are nnfaniKar to the eje and 
ear. Again, they supply an acknonrk^ed standard 
with which to compare the kngnages of modern 
Europe ; a standard, be it obsored, not arLitiary but 
real, since those languages are aetnaDif moddled, to 
a great extent, after tlie classical tongues, and, some 
of them, derived directly from them. Finally, thoi^^ 
this is an incidental advantage, we have in the 
classical tongues one foundatioii for the langmge^ 
studies of educated men of all nations^ as in the 
elements of Euclid for their mathematical studies. 

But it is not merely as an instmment of intplV^^^faial 
training that the classical studies are to be vafaied : 
the positive and direct worl^ of the stores tiiejmi&ld 
to the student is incalculable. We are hadfy less 
closely connected with the races of Greece and Borne, 
than with our own immediate ancestora. Kot mose 
truly do we owe our most Tafaied civil i^^bts and 
social institutions to our Saxon taa&i&eis, Hian we 
are indebted to the Greeks and Bomans for a large 
element of our Ixteratm^ and phiksophj. It is not 
for us — 

'' T&e beizB of an 1^ agn, ia Ite ftKOBiHt fin of ttne*— 

to disown the bonds that mnte ns wi& tJie i»«ti«»a 

of antiquity. We cannot ef^ee tlieae bonds; we 
may ignore them, but it will be at oar own cost. It 
is a rich inheritance that we have zeccsredy and if we 
would hand it down not imporenshed but strengfli. 


ened, it must be by duly appreciating tbe relations 
that we bear to it. They who have no past can have 
no ftiture. It is as wise for races as for individuals 
to wish their " days to be bound each to each in 
natural piety:" and an indispensable condition to 
our contributing anything to other generations, either 
in science, Hterature, or pohtics, is that we forbear 
to look on what we have as the fruit of our own toil, 
but reverently and gratefiiUy own our debt to other 
and earlier nations. For themselves, also, are the 
ancient authors most deserving of intimate acquain- 
tance. Within a bulk of comparatively small extent 
we have the works of poets, historians, and orators, 
who have been, by common consent, treated as mo- 
dels of successfiil composition. In the same works 
we see completely unfolded to us the history of some 
of the most momentous events the world has seen, — 
events full of instruction for the statesman, of interest 
for the student, and of warning and wisdom for us 
all. For it must not be supposed that the passions 
and struggles, the triumphs and failures, of Greece 
and Eome have no significancy for us. The heart of 
humanity is much the same in all times ; the wants 
that call for national laws and institutions, the dan- 
gers that threaten, and the obstacles that thwart, 
them will not vary much. Some allowance must of 
course be made for variations of race, climate, and 
rehgion ; and this very necessity will introduce a new 
and most valuable element into the study. It is 
because this has often not been done, — because an 
examination of the books and history has so often 


been unaccompanied by a careful attempt to fix tbe 
relations between the people and their literature, that 
the study has so often been, not without reason, 
charged with pedantry as an accomplishment, and 
uselessness as a training. The history of the ancient 
world is not only a hnk in a chain, of which our 
own forms a continuation, but a whole in itself, an 
historic cycle so complete and so concentrated as 
to deserve our most careful study. It presents to 
us a legendary age in which we must grope our way 
with the most heedful caution, followed by a period 
in which we can discern with more certainty, though 
much obscurity still remains, the gradual rise of order 
out of chaos, the growth of states and institutions, 
and the consolidation of languages : then comes the 
season of full national hfe and vigour, illustrated, 
happily for us, by the clear Hght of authentic history ; 
and next the season of decay. In the history of 
Greece, for instance, a country not larger than some 
of the smallest of our present European states, and 
in the course of a few centuries, we see enacted all 
the vicissitudes of modern Europe. Numerous inde- 
pendent states are presented to us, of small extent of 
course, and formed of citizens of the same race and 
language, but exhibiting almost every variety of 
government, and animated by the most Hvely nation- 
ality: we see them torn to pieces by intestine 
struggles from the want of sympathy in any common 
pm-pose, and saved from premature decay only by 
threatened destruction at the hands of the great 
Eastern monarchy. Amidst this danger, we see 


Greece so unconscious of her strength, that only by 
the earnest persuasion and heroic self-devotion of 
that one city, which was to Grreece what Grreece was 
to the world besides, was she induced to face the 
danger and overcome it. This was the period of 
youth. It introduces the season of conscious great- 
ness, marked by foreign supremacy, by the increase of 
wealth and extension of commerce, and by the rapid 
development of the arts and hterature, — a glorious 
era, but cut short by those intestine divisions 
which the Persian wars had only interrupted. Less 
than a century passes, and we find Grreece humbling 
herself before the very power which she had so 
heroically defied; and then comes a long season of 
national degradation and decay, terminated by the 
virtual subjugation of all Grreece to the half-barbarian 
power of Macedonia ; though for a time the same 
city, which by her patriotic self-devotion saved her 
country from the Persians, rallies the expiring energies 
of the same Greece against the Macedonians, — by the 
splendour of her fall, as of her rise, almost atoning 
for the infatuated ambition of her middle course. 

Instructive as such a history must be, — and it 
would not be difficult to find many a momentous 
parallel in the history of our modem world, — it might 
be thought that its full meaning could be learned 
from the great histories of Greece which our own 
language possesses. But I wish to point out the 
intimate connection between these events and the 
contemporary histories which first narrate them. Of 
the first period Herodotus, the historian of the 


Persian wars, is the most perfect type ; the form and 
contents of his work, his style and diction, his Ionic 
speech, full and flexible, but loose and careless, his 
inquiring wonder, his simple and unaffected piety, all 
bear the most faithful impress of the times and 
events themselves. To the second period belongs 
Thucydides, himself an actor in the scenes he de- 
scribes, a type of Athens in her prime, mature and 
philosophic in judgment, using a style masculine and 
stately, free, on the one hand from the exuberance 
and almost child-like simphcity of Herodotus, and, 
on the other, from the too exquisite polish of his suc- 
cessors. In Hke manner Xenophon represents the 
third period of approaching decay, describing events 
in some of which he bore himself no mean part, but 
showing, in his own character, how the excessive in- 
tellectual cultivation of his countrymen was combin- 
ing with other causes to undermine their patriotism. 
But if these three historians thus typify the times in 
which they lived, and which they describe, how much 
more apt a representative of the last struggle of Grreece 
do we find in him 

Whose resistless eloquence 
Wielded at will that fierce democratie, 
Shook the arsenal, and fulmined over Greece 
To Macedon. 

Demosthenes does not merely -describe the most mo- 
mentous events of that period ; his works are them- 
selves such. Himself the soul of that glorious but 
unavailing resistance, his speeches were the most 
potent weapons used in it. A still closer relation 


would be found to exist between the poets of these 
successive periods and their times. The Homeric 
poems are almost the only record of the age to which 
they belong, but we feel sure that they are the exact- 
est transcript of that age. ^schylus, who fought 
himself at Marathon, is the poet of youthful Grreece, 
reverent and sublime. In Sophocles the drama is 
perfected, and art becomes self-conscious, as in 
Thucydides ; while Euripides, like Xenoj^hon, shows 
that the climax had been reached, and that the seeds 
of decay were already working. Never was a nation's 
literature so true an exponent of its history, and 
therefore never was a hterature so well worthy of the 
most patient study. 

Less need be said of the writers of E-ome : excellent 
as their works are, they are not so closely bound up 
with the history of the people. It is, of course, true 
that the leading features of the Eoman character 
may be read there ; but they are not so essential 
towards an effort to understand the history. In fact, 
as the Eomans themselves avow, their literature was 
not home-sprung. Surrounded as Rome was from 
her origin by fierce and active enemies, the poetical 
element which appears in the legends of her early 
history was soon stifled, nor was it renewed again till 
she became mistress of the Grreek towns of southern 
Italy and Sicily, when " captive Greece took captive 
her savage conqueror, and introduced the arts to rude 
Latium." But if Eome did not create a hterature of 
her own, she adopted that of Grreece, and set upon 
it the stamp o^ hev own vigour. However we may 


feel the unapproactiable superiority of Homer and 
Thucydides, of Demosthenes and Plato, we could ill 
spare the charm of " Tully's voice, and Virgil's lay, 
and Livy's pictured page." Besides, when Greek 
Hberty was finally extinguished, we can hardly sup- 
pose that the literature would have permanently sur- 
vived, had not the hardier genius of Rome received 
and transmitted it. Another debt, too, we owe to 
Rome, which makes an acquaintance with her history 
and her writers most needful: whithersoever her 
arms penetrated, she brought her civil and municipal 
institutions ; and, for good or for evil, she has im- 
pressed her mark on the political life of Europe, as 
strongly as Greece has impressed hers on our intel- 
lectual life. 

Another, and more incidental, advantage in classi- 
cal studies, hes in their valae as illustrative of our 
own literature and of that of modern Europe gene- 
rally. Some knowledge of the literature of the 
ancients is as essential to a student of our own writers, 
as some knowledge of the history of science is to the 
student of science. It is needless to enforce a truth 
so obvious, as scarcely one of our great writers, our 
poets especially, can be continuously read but we 
meet with numerous allusions, both in matter and in 
manner, to the literature of Greece and Rome. 

It is readily conceded, however, that sometimes 
the study has been pushed too far, and that thus a 
natural reaction has been produced against it. Nor 
is this the only way in which the classics have suf- 
fered from such exclusive preference. If, as I have 


ventured to assert, our own writers cannot be duly 
understood without some knowledge of the ancients, 
it is still more true that the Hterature of the ancients 
will be but feebly appreciated and enjoyed by a stu- 
dent entirely ignorant of our own. If he does not 
feel how our own hteratm'e is shaped by our manners, 
our institutions, and our reHgion, he will be slow to 
see how, conversely, we may use the Hterature of the 
ancients to interpret the men themselves. If he has 
never observed the close relation in which our great- 
est writers have stood to the times they Hved in, he 
will assuredly fail to read aright many of the best 
authors among the ancients. The inevitable ten- 
dency of such a one-sided cultivation was to lead the 
young student to look on his text-books from a purely 
technical point of view, as if they were lifeless ob- 
jects, on which the grammarian might experiment at 
pleasure, — nothing better then a dry museum of 
moods and cases. It is no wonder that Greek and 
Latin have been so generally stigmatized as the dead 
languages, and that the complaint has been so often 
brought against classical studies, that, at the cost of 
the great labour of many years, but little knowledge 
was imparted, useless when gained, and soon forgot- 
ten. But it must not be supposed that the study of 
an extinct language is necessarily a merely verbal 
exercise. Of course it may be made so ; and so may 
any study. It must be owned, indeed, that the acci- 
dence of the Grreek and Latin, as once presented to 
the learner in the ordinary school grammars, was 
open to this charge. The dreary aiTay of declensions 


and conjugations set before the beginner in Latin, 
and haunting him for years, — at last, with an incal- 
culable waste of power, overcome only to appear 
again in another, and still more perplexing, shape in 
the Greek, — this was enough to dismay the boldest, 
and to justify the opinion that such an amount of toil 
was utterly disproportioned to the advantage gained. 
But now that, by a clearer insight into the principles 
of speech, these endless varieties of inflexion are 
reduced to two or three in each language, which 
again are shown to be intimately related, the greater 
part of all this toil is saved, and ample time is found 
in the years usually given to these studies for a good 
mastery of the languages, and no mean acquaintance 
with the several literatui*es. It is not meant that 
some new way is discovered of learning Grreek and 
Latin, free from all difficulty ; — any such system 
would be probably deceptive, and certainly bad ; — 
but that the difficulty is not merely mechanical, and 
that time is gained for more extended progress. The 
first object, no doubt, must be to make the young 
student a "good scholar," to give him a thorough 
command of the ancient languages, to enable him to 
transfer the Greek of Homer, of Herodotus, of 
Demosthenes, the Latin of Livy, of Horace, of Yirgil, 
or Tacitus, not into the uniform and inexpressive 
dialect of the school-room, but into genuine English, 
which shall, as nearly as may be, correspond to the 
style and matter of the individual author. Such an 
attempt daily to render the Greek and Latin into an 
English equivalent, in the manner which has been so 



well set forth by Dr. Arnold, sets before the pupil 
the idioms of three languages of a widely different 
character ; to compare these languages, and to discern 
how each contrives in its own way to convey the 
same thought, how the genius of each people affects 
the language, and how this again reacts upon their 
mode of thinking, — aU this, it wUl be allowed, supplies 
a mental training of a high order. Simultaneously 
with this power of translation, the pupil wiU have 
imparted to him an insight into the inner structure 
of the languages ; and here a striking difference in 
the phenomena which these languages present will 
lead to a useful difference of treatment. The Grreek, 
pliant as the people who spoke it, and open to so 
many varying influences, was easily moulded into 
several dialects, each mai'ked with the pecuhar features 
of the corresponding tribe, and each devoted, for the 
most part, to a distinct style of composition. " This," 
observes the recent historian of Greek literature, 
" is a peculiarity which distinguishes the Hterature of 
Greece from that of all other nations. The division 
into dialects is itself a feature common to the Greek, 
with every other language spoken through an exten- 
sive region. In all other cases, however, in the 
annals at least of Eiu-opean literature, circumstances 
have led to the estabhshment of a single dialect of 
each tongue as the language of letters and polite 
society, the remainder being restricted to vulgar or 
provincial usage. In Greece the case was different : 
each of the leading dialects there claimed and enjoyed 
the same advantage of hterary culture ;" and " as the 


different branches of composition were invented and 
matured, such was the fertihty of native talent, that 
in different districts authors arose pre-eminent in 
some particidar style." Within the limits of the 
Greek language, then, we have the materials for the 
most minute study of the processes by which lan- 
guages ai'e formed and modified. While in Homer 
we have what may safely be regarded as the first 
hterary phase of the language, in Herodotus, in 
Thucydides, in Pindar, are found those dialectic 
varieties of later times, which even in our own tongue 
the philologer has to gather together with much toil 
and the most incomplete results. The Latin does 
not present the same phenomenon. The language, 
like the people themselves, less pHant than the Greek, 
does not exhibit the same variety of dialects. Com- 
paratively hai'sh and rigid, it does not possess the 
same exquisite adaptation of form and style to every 
variety of subject, or the same sensibiHty to influences 
from slight changes of soil and cHmate, of social and 
poHtical circumstances. But this very feature, — its 
defect as a merely hterary instrument, — is, in another 
point of view, its chief merit. The very perfection 
of the Greek language, — its harmony, the delicacy of 
its structure, its close connection with the Greek 
soil, and climate, and history, all unfitted it to spread 
over foreign lands, and to impose itself on barbarous 
tribes : so that, had the noble hteratm-e which it 
contains been left to itself, it would almost inevitably 
have been lost, never to be recovered. The Latin, 
on the other hand, abrupt, but concise and vigorous. 

276 PEorESsoE j. g. geeekwood, b.a. 

was the natural companion of the Roman genius. 
Of the language we may truly say, as Virgil says of 
the people, that its high function was, not to exhibit 
the refinements of arts and science, but to impose its 
yoke on surrounding nations. Hence it is that the 
French, the Spanish, the Portuguese, and the Itahan, 
are little else than dialects of the old Latin ; while 
the German, and still more the Enghsh, have felt its 
influence extensively. The study of the Latin, there- 
fore, presents to us a different but no less important 
exercise. Less elaborate and curious in its internal 
structure, it is the key of the chief languages of 
modern Europe, without a knowledge of which they 
can never be thoroughly understood in their history 
and character. 

The young student, then, should be taught to 
examine the ancient languages in their individual 
peculiarities, and in their relations with each other, 
and with those of later times ; to trace out the deriva- 
tion of word from word, to classify, and analyze, and 
compound. This, of course, is to be done by a care- 
ful study of the text of the authors themselves, and 
by translation from English into Latin and Greek. 
For a time he will be occupied with the easier books, 
but even these will present much room for illustrative 
instruction in geography, history, and antiquities. As 
he proceeds to read books of a higher class, the great 
models of poetry and history, oratory and philosophy, 
he will be taught to appreciate their excellences of 
style, to observe how they illustrate the character of 
their times, and what influence they have exercised on 


the literature of modem days. It is true that from a 
range so extensive selections only can be read ; but 
it is quite possible, in a collegiate course, to read 
enough to impart such a knowledge and appreciation 
of them as will induce the student in after-life to take 
them up again as an employment and relaxation in 
leisure hours ; and " the business of the tutor," in 
the words of Locke, " is not so much to teach his 
pupil all that is knowable, as to raise in him a love 
and esteem of knowledge ; and to put him in the 
right way of knowing and improving himself when 
he has a mind to it." 

It may, however, be urged, and indeed is often 
urged, that in a community so pre-eminently practi- 
cal as this, so devoted to commerce and manufactures, 
there can be no time for such studies, and that, if 
there were, they would prove of little use to the 
student in his after-life. The answer I would make, 
paradoxical as it may sound, is, that it is precisely 
because they will not be useful to him in the ordinary 
sense, that they should be so sedulously cultivated. 
The more absorbing these after pursuits are likely 
to prove, and the stronger their tendency to shut 
him up in the material and the present, the more 
important is it that he should be familiar with 
pursuits which wiU sometimes allm'e him to converse 
with the great minds of other times and countries. 
Other branches of knowledge will be taught in this 
college which, in addition to their value as a mental 
discipline, will prove of great use in their application 
to manufactures and commerce. With such studies. 


therefore, it is important in many ways that our 
students should be familiar ; and I am too sensible 
of their value in counteracting the mischievous 
effects of an exclusive devotion to classics, to under- 
rate them as an independent pursuit. But there is 
a danger on either side. As a too exclusive study of 
literature, unbalanced by the sterner discipline of 
the exact sciences, is apt to engender a vagueness of 
thought, a slavish deference to authority, and a loose 
and inconclusive style of reasoning, so the develop- 
ment of the reason, or, more correctly, of the under- 
standing, alone, is likely to lead to a one-sided and 
disputatious frame of mind, a presumptuous and 
over-weening self-reliance, which is as opposed to 
true knowledge as it is to wisdom. The most ob- 
vious corrective of this is a course of discipline, in 
which the master works of the master minds of all 
ages are set before the learner, — works which he is 
not invited to discuss and criticise in the first in- 
stance, but to study with reverence and submission 
until he has gathered from the works themselves the 
power to judge them aright. I find this phase of 
the utility of literary study so well set forth by a 
modem wiiter, though with another application, that 
I cannot forbear the pleasure of quoting his words : 
— " If we think," says this eloquent writer, "that in 
reading Cicero or Shakspeare our proper position is that 
of judges, I am quite certain that ... we shall not 
understand them. The posture of children, or learn- 
ers, is the true profitable posture in all cases. It is 
not safe to propose to ourselves the end of being 


judges in any case. It is not safe for our minds 
generally; it is most unsafe for the judging faculty 
itself. Therefore, we see the wisdom of the old 
notion, that only the best books, only those which 
carry a kind of authority with them, should be set 
before boys ; when they have been drilled by them 
into habits of deference and humility, then they 
may ventm-e, if their calling requires it, on the study 
of the worst, for then they will have acquired the 
true discerning spirit, that spirit of which the judging 
spirit is the counterfeit ; the one perceiving the real 
quahty of the food which is offered, the other merely 
setting up its own partial and immature tastes and 
aversions as the standard of what is good and evil." 

Before I finish I would address a few words to those 
who are to form om* first classes in Owens College. 
It is an old Greek saying, that " the beginning is 
more than half the whole." If there is any truth in 
this, there is some responsibility as well as honour in 
being concerned with the opening of a new institu- 
tion like this, and these must attach to you as well 
as to us. I think I may promise for my colleagues 
and myself, that zeal, at least, shall not be wanting in 
lis to secure a good beginning, and I trust we may 
reckon on finding the same in you. With whatever 
care your studies are chosen for you, and however 
they are directed, it must He mainly with yourselves 
whether they are to be successful. I would remind 
you that little can be gained by mere attention to 
the class work within the walls of this college. The 
subject of every lesson must be carefully prepared at 


home, and afterwards revised at leisure. I have 
abeady reminded you that education is not in itself 
an end, but a means towards many ends; and it 
depends very much on what end you set before your- 
selves, whether the education you carry away will be 
worth the carrying. Those who simply wish to spend 
a few wearisome years with as Httle trouble as pos- 
sible, will be sure to gain their object. Those whose 
main ambition is to earn distinctions here, wiU also 
be Hkely to succeed in that, but no further ; for 
knowledge learned for a temporary purpose mostly 
proves temporary. Those who aim at the true end 
of education, — the discipline of the mind and the 
strengthening of its faculties for after-use in the 
noblest way, — they too will gain their end, for the 
very effort, if honestly made, implies success. " Stu- 
dies;" says Lord Bacon, " serve for dehght, for orna- 
ment, and for abihty. Crafty men contemn studies, 
simple men admire them, and wise men use them ; for 
they teach not their own use, but that is a wasdom 
without them, and above them." 





Deliveredin Universitt College, London, Octohsr 17, 1854, Introductory to 
the Session of the Faculty of Arts and Laws^ 1854-55. 

I MAT take ili. for granted that all here present 
have thoroughly freed their minds from that narrow- 
view of education which would make the word signify- 
merely a customary com'se of training, during a 
certain period of life, in schools, academies, and col- 
leges. We all know that the business of education, 
in its widest sense, is coextensive with a man's life — 
that it begins with the first moment of life, and ends 
with the last ; and that it goes on not alone in build- 
ings like that in which we are now assembled, but in 
every combination of place, company, and circum- 
stance, in which a man may voluntarily station him- 
self, or into which he may be casually thrust. I may 
take it for granted, also, that we are all agreed that 
education, to be complete, must involve not only the 
process of the acquisition of knowledge or ideas, but 
also that of the formation of habits. Thus secure 


against misconception, I have the less hesitation in 
asking you to let go, for the while, these more com- 
prehensive notions of what is meant by education, 
and to accept the word with me in a somewhat 
restricted sense. With your leave, I wiU here imder- 
stand education as a process extending only over that 
preparatory period of life which, with young men, 
may be supposed to close about the twentieth or 
twenty-fifth year ; and I will also understand the 
word as referring chiefly to those means, whether 
organized or casual, by which, during that period of 
life, knowledge is acquired and accumulated. 

My question then, is, Can we classify those means ? 
Can we enumerate and distingmsh the various influ- 
ences or agencies to the operation of which, success- 
fully or contemporaneously, during the first twenty 
or twenty-five years of life, most of us owe the 
acquirements with which at the end of that time we 
find ourselves furnished, and to the varying power 
and proportion of which in different lives are owing 
the amazing differences, both in style and in strength 
of intellect, which we observe among men of the same 
age, and belonging, as it were, to the same wave ? I 
think we can ; and, availing myself of some former 
thoughts on the subject, which I have had occasion to 
express in another place and form,* I wiU make the 

Fu'st of all, however, let us distinctly bargain that 
it is not all education. Supposing that at this 

* The reference here is to an article contributed to a recent numher of 
the North British Review, Letween which and the present Lecture there 
are occasional coincidences of thought. 


moment I had before me, on these benches, three 
hundred young men, collected from different parts of 
the country and the world, all between the ages of 
sixteen and twenty-five, it would require but a glance 
round among them to convince me, that, however 
accurately and completely I might classify the mis- 
cellaneous educational influences to which they had 
been subjected up to the moment of my seeing them 
together, I should still have to fall back upon a solid 
substratum of assumed original difference upon 
which all subsequent differences had been built. I 
should see, in such an assemblage, great varieties of 
stature, form, physiognomy, complexion, and tempera- 
ment. I should see some tall and strongly knit, 
others more delicate and nervous ; some I should find 
of the dark or swarthy type, others blue-eyed and 
fair-haired, and others of intermediate shades of dark, 
ruddy, and fair. If I attended to minute differences, 
I should find no two in the assemblage at all alike. 
Now all this, with every allowance for the factitious 
nature of these differences, would be but a pictorial 
representation of the fact that, of all those three 
hundred youths, no two had come into the world 
with precisely the same faculties, possibilities, and 
tendencies. I might settle as I chose the question 
of how much, but that so much of the mass of intel- 
lectual difference before me was constitutional and 
prior to all education, I should be obhged to admit. 
In those three hundred youths I should have to 
recognize, so to speak, three hundred distinct frag- 
ments of a vanished and immeasurable past, deriving 


their peculiarities of shape and colour from trains 
of circumstances ascending inscrutably through the 
depths of that past, and, in virtue of those derived 
pecuHarities, pre-related in various ways to the present 
and the future. In the swarthier visage and more 
flashing eyes of one I might discern southern or 
oriental birth and blood ; in the fairer features of 
another I might be reminded of the colder north. 
The large bone of one might mark him out as a 
Scandinavian of the east coast ; the fuller and less 
rugged outline of another might connect him, in my 
fancy, with the rich and sylvan English inlands. 
One might have more, another less, of natural force 
and grasp of mind. The constitutional aptitude of 
one might be for the harder exercises of the under- 
standing ; another might be ardent, impassioned, and 
imaginative. The disposition of one, born of a genial 
and affluent hneage, might be joyous, mild, and 
mirthful ; another, carrying in him the uncancelled 
remains of ancestral crime or ancestral suffering:, 
might be foredoomed to a life of irritabihty, gloom, 
and pain. 

Once, how^ever, having allowed for this substratum 
of constitutional difference among the three hundred 
objects of my curiosity, I should behold in them, with 
all their diversities of character, power, and accom- 
plishment, at the moment of my first acquaintance 
with them, only the various results of certain pro- 
cesses of schooling to which all of them had been 
differently subjected from their infancy onwards, and 
which, working upon the foundation supplied by 


nature, had gradually formed them into what they 

I should know, for example, tha tall those youths 
had, in the first place, received a certain portion of 
their most effective education, whether for good or 
evil, in what I will call the school of the family. 
The first school in which a man is bound to learn, 
and in which every man does, in spite of himself, 
learn more or less, is the school of his own ancestry, 
parentage, and kindred. There is no man, however 
strong his character, and however migratory his life, 
in whose mature manner of thought there are not 
traces of impressions produced on him by the family 
faces amid which he first opened his eyes, the family 
joys or griefs with which his childhood laughed or 
sobbed, the family stories and traditions to which his 
childhood listened. Happy they to whom this has been 
a kindly school — the homes of whose infancy have been 
homes of peace, order, and courtesy ; over whose early 
years just fatherly authority and careful motherly 
gentleness have watched ; in whose experience there 
has been no contradiction between the sense of right 
and the ties of blood ; and who can look back upon 
progenitors remembered for probity, courage, and 
good citizenship, and round among Kving kinsmen 
well placed and well respected in the world. This is 
not the common notion of pedigree. That man were, 
indeed, little better than a har, who, counting high 
historic names among his ancestors, should pretend 
to be careless of the fact ; but the kind of pedigree of 
which we speak is to be found in the humblest lineage 


of the land ; and at this hour, over broad Britain, 
there are, as we all know, families neither rich nor 
noble, to have sprung from which and to have been 
nursed on their mii'ecorded fireside legends would for 
the purposes of real outfit in fife, be better than to 
have been born in a castle and had the blood of 
all the Plantagenets. And yet, on the other hand, 
even those — and they are many — to whom this school 
of family and kindred has been a hard school, may there 
also have received many a powerful and useful lesson. 
Men do learn very variously, and there is an educa- 
tion of revolt and reaction, as well as of acquiescence 
and imitation. The training received in the school of 
family and kindred m.Sij not have been a genial or pro- 
mising one ; it may not be from the past in his own 
lineage that one can derive any dbect stimulus or 
inspiration; the home of the early education may have 
been one of penury, chill, and contention — a veritable 
picture of a household with its household gods broken; 
and yet, even so, the culture may have been great and 
varied — albeit, sometimes, a culture of strength at the 
expense of symmetry. 

From this school of family and kindred, all pass on 
to another school, still more extensive and influential 
— the school of what I will call native local cir- 
cumstance. I have always felt disposed to attach a 
pecuhar reverence and a pecuhai' sense of value to 
that arrangement, institution, or whatever you choose 
to call it, common to most societies, which we in Great 
Britain designate by the term, neighbom-hood or 
parish. That eveiy man should be related, and 


should feel himself related, in a particular manner, 
to that tract of earth which he is taught to regard 
as his parish, the assigned local scene of his habita- 
tion and activity on this side the grave, seems to me 
a natural and beautiful arrangement, which our poli- 
tical system would do well to respect, use, and con- 
secrate. The limits of this smallest and most natural 
of territorial divisions may be variously defined. You 
may figure a parish as a tract of earth containing and 
supporting 2000 inhabitants — the ideal of a rural 
parish ; or you may figure it as a tract of earth imder- 
lying the sound of a particular church-bell. That this 
smallest of territorial divisions should merge and fit 
into larger and still larger divisions — the district, the 
county, and so on — is also necessary and natural ; 
but that a man's closest relations ought to be with 
his own parish and neighbourhood, that it is with 
the natural and social phenomena lying around him 
on this piece of earth that he is bound primarily to 
make himself acquainted, and that all the elementary 
requirements of his life ought to be provided for by 
apparatus there set up, seems to me sound doctrine. 
For a man not to be so locally related during at least 
a portion of his hfe — for a man to be shifted about in 
his youth from place to place, not remaining long 
enough in any to root his affections among its objects 
and details — seems to me a misfortmie. In point of 
fact, however, few are in this predicament. Removal 
from one's native place is common enough, and is be- 
coming more common ; but almost all — ^including 
even those exceptional persons who, having been born 


at sea, are reputed to belong to the parish of Stepney 
— are located, during some part of their lives, in some 
one district, with the whole aspect and circumstance 
of which they become famihar, and which they learn 
to regard as native ground. Now, it is important to 
remark that there is no district, no patch of the habi- 
table earth, in which a man can be placed and bred 
but there are within that spot the materials and in- 
ducements towards a very considerable natural educa- 
tion. Nay, more, there is, to all ordinary intents and 
purposes, no one district in the natural and artificial 
circumstance of which there is not a tolerable re- 
presentation and epitome of all that is general and 
fundamental in nature and life everywhere. Take 
Great Britain itself. Every British parish has its 
mineralogy ; every British parish has its geology ; 
every British parish has its botany; every British parish 
has its zoology ; every British parish has its rains, 
its storms, its streams, and consequently its meteoro- 
logy and hydi'ology ; every British parish has its 
wonders of nature and art, impressive on the local 
imagination, and, in some cases, actually exerting 
a physical influence over the local nerve : and though 
these objects and wonders vary inmiensely — though 
in one parish geological circumstance may predomi- 
nate, in another botanical, and in a third hydrological 
or architectm'al — though in one the local wonder may 
be a marsh, in another a rocky cavern, and in a third 
an old fort or a bit of Roman wall — yet in each there 
is a sufficient touch of what is generic in all. Over 
every British parish, at least, when night comes, 


there hangs — splendid image of our identity at the 
highest — the same nocturnal glory, a sapphire con- 
cave of nearly the same stars. Descend to the life and 
Hving circumstance of the community, and it is still 
the same. There is no British parish in which all 
the essential processes, passions, and social ongoings 
of British humanity, from the chaffering of the market- 
place up to madness and murderous revenge, are not 
proportionately illustrated and epitomised. There is 
no British parish that has not its gossip, its humours, 
its customs, its oracular and remarkable individuals, 
its oddities and whimsicalities, all of which can he 
made objects of study. Finally, there is no British 
parish that has not its traditions, its legends, and 
histories, connecting the generation present upon it 
with the world of the antique. And, with some modi- 
fication, it is the same, if, passing the limits of Britain, 
we extend our view to foreign lands and climes. The 
circumstance, physical, artificial, social and historical, 
of a district in Italy or in Spain, is largely different 
from the corresponding circumstance of a district in 
Britain ; much more so the circumstance of a district 
in South America or Hindostan ; and yet, generically, 
there is so much that is common, that, after all, a 
person educated in the midst of Italian or Spanish 
circumstance, has about the same stock of funda- 
mental notions of things as an Englishman has, and 
that a Hindoo jest will pass current in Middlesex. 
Every man, then, learns a vast deal — a large propor- 
tion of all our surest knowledge is derived — from this 
education, which we all have, in spite of ourselves', in 


the school of native local circumstance. It appears 
to me that, in om* educational theories, we do not 
sufficiently attend to this. It appears to me that, 
among all our schemes of educational reform, perhaps 
the most desirable would be one for the organization 
and systematic development of this education of 
local circumstance, which is, at any rate, everywhere 
going on. This, I conceive, is the true theory of the 
" teaching of common things." Every child bom in 
a parish and resident in it ought to have, as his in- 
tellectual outfit in life, a tolerably complete acquain- 
tance with the concrete facts of nature and hfe presented 
by that parish; and in every parish there ought to be 
a systematic means for accomphshing this object. 
Every child ought to carry with him into life, as a 
little encyclopaedia, a stock of facts and pictures col- 
lected from the scene of his earhest habitations and 
associations ; ought to be familiar with that miscel- 
lany of natm'al and artificial circumstance which first 
sohcited his observation iu the locahtv where he was 
brought up — from its minerals and wild plants, and 
birds and moUuscs, up to its manufactures, its econo- 
mics, its privileges and bye-laws, and its local mytho- 
logy or legends. A reformed system of parochial 
education ought to take this in charge, and to secure 
to the young some instruction in local natural history, 
local antiquities, local manufactures and economics, 
and local institutions and customs. Meanwhile, in 
the absence of any systematic means of accomphshing 
the object, we see that everywhere healthy boys do, 
by their own locomotion and inquisitiveness, contrive 


to acquii'e a stock of concrete local fact and imager^^ 
We see them roaming over the circle of their neigh- 
bourhoods singly and in bands — ascending hills, 
climbing trees and precipices, peeping into foundries, 
workshops, and police offices — peering, in short, into 
everything open or forbidden to them, and in the most 
literal sense of the phrase, pursuing knowledge under 
difficulties. And here, accordingly, in addition to 
constitutional difference and the difference of familj^ 
schooling, is another source of the intellectual diver- 
sity we find among grown-up men. The education 
of local circumstance, as we have said, is by no means 
necessarily a narrow education ; all that is general and 
essential everywhere, whether as respects the main 
facts of nature or the habits and laws of the human 
mind, is repeated in miniature in every spot. Kant 
never slept out of Konigsberg ; and Socrates never 
wished to go beyond the walls of Athens. Yet, on 
the other hand, difference of local educating circum- 
stance is one of the causes of difference of intellectual 
taste and style in mature life. No two districts or 
parishes are precisely alike in their suggestions and 
intellectual inducements. Some localities, as we have 
said, allui'e to geology, others to botany, others to 
fondness for landscape and colour, others to mechanics 
and engineering, others to archaeology and historical 
lore. Of those supposed three hundred youths, for 
example — even omitting such of them as had been 
born and brought up abroad, amid scenes, and a vege- 
tation, and costumes, and customs, ay, and under 
constellations different from our own — hardly any 


two of the Britisli-borii would be found trading intel- 
lectually, so to speak, on the same stock of recollected 
facts and images. Some might have been bom on 
the sea-coast, and the images most famihar to their 
memories would be those of rocks, and shingle, and a 
breaking surf, and brown fishing boats, and gulls dip- 
ping in the waves, and heavy clouds gathering for a 

" I see a wretched isle that ghost-like stands, 
Wrapt in its mist-shroud in the wintry main ; 
And now a cheerless gleam of red-ploughed lands, 
O'er which a crow flies heavy in the rain." 

Others might have been bom and bred in sweet pas- 
toral districts, and the images most kindly to their 
fancy would be those of still green vaUeys, and Httle 
streams flowing through them, and flocks, led by 
tinkhng sheep-bells, cropping the uplands. Others 
might be natives of rich EngHsh wheat flats ; others 
of baiTen tracts of hill and torrent. Some might 
have been born in provincial towns, where the kinds 
of circumstance pecuhar to street-hfe would prepon- 
derate over the purely agricultm'al or rural ; others 
might be denizens of the great metropoHs itself, with 
its endless extent of shops, warehouses, wharves, 
churches, and chimneys. In large towns, and, above 
all, in London, it is needless to say, the fact to be 
noted is the infinite preponderance of artificial and 
social circumstance over that of natural landscape, 
and its infinitely close intertexture. The spontane- 
ous education there, accordingly, is chiefly in what is 
socially various, curious, highly developed, comic, and 
characteristic. So strong, however, is the instinct of 


local attachment, that natives of London do contract 
an affection for their own parishes and neighbourhoods, 
and an acquaintance with their details and humours, 
over and above their general regard for those objects 
which claim the common worship of all. In short, 
however we turn the matter over, we still find that 
a large proportion of the most substantial education 
of every one, consists of this unconscious and inevi- 
table education of local circumstance ; and that, in 
fact, much of the original capital on which we all 
trade intellectually during life, is that mass of miscel- 
laneous fact and imagery which our senses have taken 
in busily and imperceptibly amid the scenes of their 
first exercise. In the lives of most men who have 
become eminent, whether in speculative science or in 
imaginative literature, a tinge of characteristic local 
colour may be traced to the last. Adam Smith 
meditated his " Wealth of Nations " on the sands of 
a strip of Fifeshire sea-coast, and drew the instances 
which suggested the doctrines of that work to his 
own mind, and by which he expounded them to others, 
from the petty circumstance of a small fishing and 
weaving community close by. And in Shakspeare 
himself, widely as his imagination ranged, it will be 
found that, in his descriptions of natural scenery at 
least, large use is made of the native circumstance of 
his woody Warwickshire, with its elms, its willows, 
its crow-flowers, daisies, and long-purples. However 
migratory a man has been, and however thickly, by 
his migrations, he may have covered the tablets of 
his memory with successive coatings of imagery, there 


are times when, as he shuts his eyes, all these seem 
washed away, and the original photographs of his 
early years — the hUl, the moor, the village-spire, the 
very turn of the road where he met the sohtary 
horseman — start out fresh as ever. Nay more, it will 
be found (and this is a fact of which Hartley and his 
laws of the association of ideas have never made any- 
thing to the purpose) that perpetually, underneath 
our formal processes of thinking, apparently indepen- 
dent of these processes, and yet somehow playing into 
them and qualifying them, there is passing through 
our minds a series of such unbidden reappearing 
photographs, a flow of such recollected imagery. 

So much for this school, on which I have dwelt so 
long simply because, in doing so, I have accomplished 
half my exposition. I will now name together three 
other schools, which come next in theoretical order, 
though, in fact, they and the last are often attended 
simultaneously. These are — the school of travel, the 
school of books, and the school of friendship. Under 
the head of the education of travel I include, as you 
may guess, all that comes of migration or change of 
residence ; and my remarks under the former head 
will have enabled you to see that all this, important 
and varied as it may seem, consists simply in the 
extension of the field of observed fact and circum- 
stance. AH the celebrated effects of travel, purely as 
such, in enlarging the mind, breaking down preju- 
dice, and what not, will be found to resolve them- 
selves into this. If I pass now to the education of 
hooks, here also I find that the same phrase — extension 


of the field of circumstance — answers to a good deal 
of what this education accomplishes. Books are 
travel, so to speak, reversed — they bring supplies of 
otherwise inaccessible fact and imagery to the feet of 
the reader. Books, too, have this advantage over 
travel, that they convey information from remote 
times as well as from distant places. " If the inven- 
tion of the ship," says Bacon, " was thought so noble, 
which carrieth riches and commodities from place to 
place, and consociateth the most remote regions in 
participation of their fruits, how much more are 
letters to be magnified, which, as ships, pass the vast 
seas of time, and make ages so distant to participate 
of the wisdom, illuminations, and inventions, the one 
of the other ! " In these words, however, there is a 
suggestion that the education of books consists not 
alone in the mere extension of the field of the con- 
crete. Books admit us to the accumulated past 
thought, as well as to the accumulated past fact and 
incident of the human race ; and, though much of that 
thought — as, for example, what comes to us in poetry 
— consists but of a new form of concrete (the con- 
crete of the fantastic or ideal), yet a large proportion 
of it consists of something totally different — abstract 
or generalized science. It is in the school of books, 
more particularly, that that great step in education 
takes place — the translation of the concrete into the 
abstract ; the organization of mere fact and imagery - 
into science. It is in conversation with books, more 
paiiicularly, that one first sees unfolded one by one, 
that splendid roll of the so-called sciences — mathe- 


maticSj astronomy, mechanics, chemistry, physiology, 
moral science, and politics, with all their attached 
sciences and subdivisions — in which the aggregate 
thought of the human race on all subjects has been 
systematized ; and that one first sees all knowledge 
laid out into certain great orders of ideas, any one 
of which will furnish occupation for a life. This 
great function, we say, peculiarly belongs to books. 
And what shall we say of the education o^ friendship ? 
In what does this consist, and what does it peculiarly 
achieve ? It consists, evidently, in all that can result, 
in the way of culture, from a closer relation than 
ordinary with certain selected individuals out of the 
throng through which one passes in the course of 
one's life. It is given to every one to form such 
close sentimental relations with perhaps six or seven 
individuals in the course of the early period of life : 
and these relationships — far easier at this time of life 
than afterwards — are among the most powerful edu- 
cating influences to which youth can be subjected. 
Friendship educates mainly in two ways. In the 
first place, it educates by disposing and enabling one 
to make certain individual specimens of human cha- 
racter, and all that is connected with them, objects 
of more serious and minute study than is bestowed on 
men at large ; and, in the second place, it takes a 
man out of his own personaht}'', and doubles, triples, 
or quintuples his natural powers of insight, by com- 
pelling him to look at nature and life through the 
eyes of others, each of whom is, for the time being, 
another self. This second function of friendship, as 


an influence of intellectual culture, is by far the most 
important. There are, of course, various degrees of 
friendship, and various exercises of it in the same 
degree. There is friendship with equals, friendship 
with inferiors, and friendship with superiors. Of all 
forms of friendship in j^outh, by far the most effective, 
as a means of education, is that species of enthusiastic 
veneration which young men of loyal and well- 
conditioned minds are apt to contract for men of 
intellectual eminence within their own circles. The 
educating effect of such an attachment is prodigious ; 
and happy the youth who forms one. We all know 
the advice given to young men to " think for them- 
selves ; " and there is sense and soundness in that 
advice ; but if I were to select what I account perhaps 
the most fortunate thing that can befall a young man 
during the early period of his life — the most fortunate 
too, in the end, for his intellectual independence — it 
would be his being voluntarily subjected, for a time, 
to some powerful intellectual tyranny. 

Having thus sufficiently illustrated the idea that 
it is not in one school, but in a plurality of schools, 
each having a characteristic effect, that a man receives 
his education, and -having named some of these 
schools, I am in a position to consider more particu- 
larly the nature of that education which is supplied 
by one of the schools mentioned — the school of books. 
I have already said enough to show that, of all the 
varieties of education capable of being separately 
regarded, this education of books, in the matter of 
intellectual cultivation at least, deserves to stand 


paramount. As the depositories of tlie past thought 
and experience of the human race, books do yield us 
our largest supplies of knowledge. It is chiefly in 
books, too, as we have said, that we find that immense 
operation already performed to our hands — the distri- 
bution of knowledge into certain grand orders or 
progressions of ideas, called sciences. But, besides 
this, it will be found, I think, that the school of 
books performs a collateral function in regard to the 
other schools, and that only those who have been 
pupils in it can enjoy the higher education furnished 
by the others. It will be found, I think, that it is 
not the iUiterate but the instructed inhabitants of a 
parish that have the fuU benefit of intimacy with its 
physical, its social, or even its legendary circumstance. 
An ilHterate native of Stratford-on-Avon is dead to 
almost all that education which lies over and around 
the town in virtue of its having been the birthplace 
of Shakspeare ; a boor dwelling by Stonehenge 
drinks no instruction from its mysterious monuments ; 
and the human beings that nestle in the clefts of the 
Alps themselves are among the most mean and soul- 
less of their kind. So with the school of travel. 
You know the hero of Wordsworth's tale, — 

He, two and thirty years or more, 
Had been a wild and woodland rover ; 
Had heard the Atlantic surges roar 
On farthest Cornwall's rocky shore, 
And trod the cliffs of Dover. 

He had travelled twenty times over all BritaiD, in 
fact ; and what was the result r — 


He roved among the vales and streams, 
In the green wood and hollow dell ; 
They were his dwellings night and day— 
But Nature ne'er could find the way 
Into the heart of Peter Bell. 

So, also, with the school of friendship — here, too the 
iUiterate are bad pupils. No wonder, then, that the 
word education has come to be appHed, pecuharly, to 
the education of books, and that what is called the edu- 
cational apparatus in every modern society is, in the 
main, an apparatus set up to facihtate and systematize 
the study of books. As we have said, we are, perhaps, 
wrong in this ; and it may well be made a question 
in the highest view of education, whether in our 
educational system, we do not attend too exclusively 
to hterary and scientific accompHshment. Still we 
see that our instinct, in this respect, has some defence 
in reason. 

Let me repeat what I have just said. In point of 
fact, in this and every other civiHzed country at the 
present moment, all our educational apparatus, re- 
cognized as such, is an apparatus for systematizing 
and facihtating the study of books. All our schools, 
all our colleges, all our hbraries — almost everything, 
in fact, that we recognize as an educational insti- 
tution, with the partial exception of recently founded 
industrial schools and schools of practical art — are 
but a machinery for forwarding what may be called 
book-education. Here, however, we must make a 
distinction. This extensive machinery of book-educa- 
tion, which is set up amongst us, consists of two 
portions. One portion has for its object simply the 


effective teaching of the art of reading, with its usual 
adjuncts ; another has for its object the guidance of 
the community in the use of that art when it has 
been acquired. Let us say that the first function is 
performed by the schools of the country, and that the 
second is reserved for the colleges of the country. 
This does not exactly accord with the fact — many of 
our so-called schools going far beyond the mere teach- 
ing of reading and writing, and undertaking part of 
the duty we have assigned to colleges ; and many of 
our so-called colleges, alas ! having devolved upon 
them too much of the proper drudgery of schools. 
For our piirposes, however, the distinction may very 
well be so expressed. 

It is the business of the schools of a country, then, 
let us say, to impart to the youth of that country the 
accomplislMnent of perfect and easy reading in the 
vernacular, with the correlative of writing in the 
same. This, if an elementary, is a grand function. 
Teach a man to read and write perfectly, and the rest, 
generally speaking, is in his own power. He is no 
longer a Helot ; you have put him in possession of 
the franchise of books. With this possession, and 
with such access as he may have to libraries, 4ie may 
be anything he pleases and has faculty for. By read- 
ing in one direction he may make himself a mathe- 
matician ; by reading in another he may become an 
adept in political economy ; by reading in many he 
may become a variously cultured man. The accom- 
plishment of perfect and easy reading in one's own 
language is, after all, the grand distinction between 


the educated and the non-educated. There are, indeed, 
degrees and differences among those above tliis line ; 
but between those above it and those below it, there 
is a great gulf. And here we come in sight of a 
notion which seems to me of immense importance in 
connection with our schemes of national education. 
If we will have no concern with a national scjhool 
system which does not secure that all the young 
members of a community shall be instructed in cer- 
tain orders of ideas, then we may be engaged in a 
very noble labour ; but, it seems to me, we are en- 
gaged in a very vast and very long one. But if we 
pitch our ideal lower, if we will be contented, in the 
first instance, with a national school system pretend- 
ing to be nothing more than an apparatus for 
thoroughly accomplishing the one good object of 
teaching all the boys and girls in the community to 
read and write — then I see hope. I would proclaim it, 
in fact, as the primary function of a national school 
system — other things, of course, reserved — to impart 
to all the children in a community the full franchise 
of books. How far we are from even this moderate 
attainment in our land, who does not know ? And 
yet we« debate, and delay, and wrangle ; we will have 
this, we will have that ; we will have so many things, 
that we do nothing. It is our disgrace as a nation. 
Again and again, and again, I think that, if but twelve 
of our leading men were to give themselves up to this as 
the work of their lives — the setting up in our parishes 
of such an apparatus as would render it impossible for 
any child born on British ground to grow up untaught 


to read and write — ^the thing would be done before 
twelve years were over. ! is it come to this, that 
a nation which, bj its cash and courage exported to 
the ends of the earth, can blow up a colossal citadel, 
and reorganize a foreign peninsula, cannot educate its 
own httle ones ? 

Once in possession of the franchise of books, a 
man, as we have said, has, generally speaking, the 
rest in his own power. There is no limit to what, 
with talent and perseverance, he may attain. He 
may become a classical scholar and a hnguist ; or he 
may grow eminent in speculation and the sciences. 
We have instances in abundance of such perseverance ; 
and we have a name for those who so distinguish 
themselves. A person who, avaihng himself of the 
spontaneous means of education afforded by the other 
great schools which we have enumerated — the school 
of family, the school of native local circumstance, the 
school of travel, and the school of friendship ; and 
having, also, somehow or other, been put in possession 
of the franchise of books — conducts the rest of his 
book-education himself, and conducts it so success- 
fully as to become eminent, is called a self-educated 
man. Society often distinguishes between self-edu- 
cated men and men who are college-bred — that is, 
who have not only been taught to read and write in 
plain schools, but have had the benefit, for a certain 
period of their more advanced youth, of that higher 
pedagogic apparatus, which directs and systematizes 
reading, and, to some extent supersedes its use, by 
imparting its results in an oral form. Now the ques- 


tion has been raised, whether this higher pedagogic 
apparatus — whether colleges, in fact — are really of so 
much use as has been fancied ; and whether it would 
not be enough if, in these days, pedagogy were to stop 
at the first stage, that of thoroughly teaching the 
mechanical art of reading, and were then to turn the 
youth of a community so instructed loose upon the 
Hbraries and the miscellaneous teaching of life. This 
question is gaining ground, and not without apparent 
reason. Of the men of our own day who are eminent 
in station, influential in society, and distinguished in 
art, science, and letters, there are many who have not 
received what is generally called an academic educa- 
tion. I have onty to glance roimd among those who 
are at present conspicuous in the various departments 
of British Kterature, and I find not a few who never 
studied in any university. And so if I look back 
upon the past. The very king, the unapproachable 
monarch, of our literature, was a Warwickshii'e man, 
who had little Latin, less Grreek, and, perhaps, no 
mathematics. True, the larger number of those ex- 
amples of intellectual eminence attained without aca- 
demic education, would be found to be not properly 
self-educated men, in the precise sense in which we 
are now using the term, but, to some extent, college- 
bred. Over Grreat Britain, and in England, in 
particular, there are hundreds of public schools and 
private seminaries which do, though not to the same 
length as the great universities, perform the functions, 
as we have defined them, of colleges ; and it is in 
these that by far the largest proportion of young 


men even of well-circumstanced families are educated. 
Shakspeare was taught at the grammar-school of his 
native town, where the boys at this day wear square 
academic caps, whatever they did ,in his ; so that 
the proper measure of Shakspeare' s education, even 
scholastically, is that he was carried as far on by the 
pedagogy of his time as at least ninety-nine per cent, 
of his contemporaries. Perhaps the number of self- 
educated prodigies, in the present restricted sense 
of the term, is not so great as supposed. StiU, 
there are examples of eminent men self-educated even 
in this extreme sense of the term — that is, of men 
who having received absolutely nothing from formal 
pedagogy but the plain faculty of reading and writing, 
if always that, have acquired all their subsequent 
book-education privately for themselves. Seeing that 
there are such men — seeing that, by simple perse- 
verance in reading books, results seem to be arrived 
at about equal in the main to what a regular coUege- 
education would bring about, the question may again 
be asked, whether, after aU, a coUege-education merits 
the respect so long accorded to it ? Your presence 
here presumes, I beheve, that you are convinced it 
does ; I will conclude my lecture, however, with one 
or two remarks which may, perhaps, express more 
particularly your views on the subject. 

Observe, the question is not whether certain more 
prominent institutions of the country, stjled and 
chartered as colleges — those included in the Universi- 
ties of Oxford, Cambridge, and London, for example 
— deserve the respect accorded to them. The ques- 


tion does, indeed, refer to those great chartered msti- 
tutions, but not exclusively. Observe, also, the ques- 
tion is not as to the present system of these or any 
cognate institutions — the nature and course of the 
studies pursued in them, or the adaptation of these 
studies to the wants of the age. The question simply 
is whether, when a community has, by one set of 
educational apparatus, called schools, put its young 
men in possession of that faculty of reading and taste 
for the same, which are the key to all the knowledge 
contained in books, it may then leave them to their 
own private perseverance, according to their inchna- 
tions and opportunities ; or whether finer results may 
not be attained by handing them over, at this point, 
to another and a higher kind of educational apparatus, 
called colleges, which will take charge of them a few 
years longer, assist them in their first inroads upon the 
vast mass of thought and knowledge accumulated in 
books, and, in part, supersede and supplement that 
method of acquiring knowledge by oral instruction. 

In the first place, then, colleges fulfil this impor- 
tant function — that they guarantee to society a cer- 
tain amount of competency in certain professions in 
which previously guaranteed competency is necessary. 
The professions most ostensibly in this predicament 
are those of law, theology, and medicine ; but there 
are numberless other professions for the efficiency and 
respectability of which a certain amount of attested 
general acquirement, as well as of special professional 
training, in those who engage in them, is absolutely 
requisite. This function of insuring society against 



the intrusion of quacks and ignorant pretenders into 
important professions, is performed, as well as it ad- 
mits of being performed, by colleges. Before a man 
can legally practice medicine, for example, it is re- 
quired that lie shall have attended courses of lectm'es, 
not only in what appertains to medical science, but 
also in those general subjects which enter into a 
liberal education. And so, in various ways, and under 
various forms of regulation, Tv^ith other professions. 
Now, it is certainly possible that the same result 
might be attained by other means. The professions 
might be thrown open to all comers ; they might 
cease, so far, to be corporations ; all men might be 
admitted to practice medicine or any other profession, 
provided they gave evidence of abihty for such prac- 
tice, anyhow attained ; and this might be tested by 
a system of examinations calculated to ascertain the 
competency of candidates without inquiring by what 
means they had become competent. I think I see a 
tendency in this dii'ection ; I know not how far it wiU 
go, but, as matters now are, I beheve no security for 
professional qualification could be devised that could 
wholly dispense with the plan of college certificates 
— the principle of which is that they attest that can- 
didates have been at least physically detained, for a 
certain period of time, in places where the required 
knowledge was to be had, so that they must have 
been impervious indeed not to have imbibed some of it. 
This suggests an extension of the same argument. 
It is not only with a view to professional quahfiea- 
tion that persons are the better for being detained, 


whether they will or not, in places where knowledge 
is systematically administered. Indolence, love of 
amusement, preference for the pleasant, the trivial, 
and the immediate, over what is important, substan- 
tial, and lasting, are besetting sins even in manhood ; 
but in youth they are especially natural. If a body 
of young men, fresh from school, were turned loose 
upon the huge library of printed literature to find 
their way into it and through it, as they liked, many 
of them, doubtless, would prove insatiable readers ; 
but it is questionable whether many of them, of their 
own accord, would choose the right directions, or 
would pursue their reading beyond that point where 
toil and patience began to be requisite. The spirit of 
competition, the chance of those prizes which society 
confers on attainment, might, indeed, spm* the ardent 
to exertion, and make them exchange the pleasant for 
the dijQBcult ; and the mere progressive search after 
interesting books, would lead others, by a zig-zag 
course, from the lower to the higher kinds of litera- 
ture — from Kosa Matilda novels to the novels of Scott 
and Kichardson ; from Anacreon and Peter Pindar to 
Sophocles and Milton ; from jest books to Swift and 
Addison; from the daily or weekly newspapers to 
Gibbon or Macaulay. But what is clearly wanted is 
a kind of intellectual generalship, if we may so speak, 
that shall muster youth in front of the masses of lite- 
rature which have to be pierced through and con- 
quered ; drill them ; infuse a bold spirit into them ; 
point out to them the proper points of attack, 
doubts where glory is to be won ; and, while leaving 


them as much scope as possible for individual energy 
and inclination, lead them on, according to a plan, in 
regular order and column. This duty is undertaken 
by colleges. There young men are assembled in 
classes, the business of which has been arranged, how- 
ever imperfectly, according to an idea of the best 
manner in which knowledge may be partitioned ; they 
are obhged to be present so many hours a-day in the 
selected classes, and there to hear lectm-es on various 
subjects dehbefately read to them, whether they will 
or not : and thus, as well as by the discipline of ex- 
aminations and the like, certain orders of ideas as well 
as certain intellectual tendencies are worked into 
them, which they could not otherwise have acquired, 
and which place them at an advantage all tjie rest of 
their hves. That I have not exaggerated this use of 
colleges, I believe observation will prove. I believe 
it will be found that many of our first speculative 
and scientific minds have derived the special tenden- 
cies which have made their hves famous from im- 
pulses communicated in colleges. 1 think also it will 
be found that strictly self-educated men — of course I 
except the higher and more illustrious instances — do 
not, as a body, exhibit the same tenacity'- and perse- 
verance in pushing knowledge to its farthest limits as 
academic men of equal power. Their disposition, in 
most instances, is to be content with what I will call 
proximate knowledge — that which hes about them 
and can be turned to immediate account. It is in 
current politics, in general Hterature, and in popular 
matter of thought, that they move and have their 


being ; upon the laborious tracks of abstract science, 
or of difficult and extreme speculation, they do not so 
often enter. Or, if occasionally, we do see a self- 
taught geologist, a self-taught botanist, or a self- 
taught mathematician — ^then, not unfrequently, there 
is an egotistic exultation over the labour gone through, 
and an exaggerated estimation of the particular science 
overtaken in its relations to the whole field of know- 
ledge. There is too much, so to speak, of the spirit 
of the private soldier, whose idea of the field is but 
the recollection of his own movements. There are, I 
repeat, examples of self-educated men of so high an 
order as to be free from these faults. Still I beheve 
what I have said will be found, in the main, correct. 
Nay, abroad in society generally there is, I beheve, 
too much of that spirit of contempt for the high, the 
profound, and the elaborate, in the way of speculation, 
which the worldly success of half-taught men of good 
natural abihties is calculated to foster. You will meet 
in society many really clever and ingenious men, who 
have a spruce way of talking of what is to them be- 
hind the cm'tain. Formal Logic, High Art, Conic 
Sections, Syllogisms, Aristotle's Categories, the Ob- 
jective and the Subjective, the Theory of Hurricanes, 
the Philosophy of the Unconditioned — these and 
other such phrases they sneer at in the most decisive 
manner. Why cannot men say what they have got 
to say in plain Enghsh ? is their usual way of put- 
ting the question. Now, from persons who under- 
stand what they thus sneer at — who know a syllo- 
gism when they see it, and could repeat Aristotle's 


Categories — all this is very well; but from those who 
do not, it is intolerable. It is the mere conceit of 
ignorance. Plain English! "The assymptote of a 
hyperbola" — put that into plain English! "The 
square of a semiordinate to any diameter is equal to 
the rectangle under the parameter of that diameter 
and the corresponding absciss" — express that in plain 
Enghsh, if you can ! These are examples from one 
science : but they teach the general lesson, that every 
science must be allowed its own language, and it is 
not for those who are outside the temple of Philosophy 
to settle the terms on which its votaries shall be 
initiated. To pedantry or mystification let there be 
no mercy ; and whoever, in talking to a child, cannot 
use words of one syllable, by all means let him pay 
the penalty. But men do not always talk to children ; 
and when they talk to each other at their highest 
strain on great subjects, they will best settle their 
own mode of procedure. This, accordingly, is one 
use of colleges — that, by accustoming young men to 
the forms of high science, they kill in them this 
unseemly conceit in proximate knowledge, and foster 
in its stead a reverence for the lofty, the difficult, and 
the elaborate ; and that, by training them in various 
courses of knowledge at the same time, they cultivate 
in them also a spirit of intellectual generahty. And 
so, irrespective of their effects on the professions, 
colleges tend to keep up a high intellectual standard 
in a community, and to increase the number of 
strictly and variously cultivated men. 

Again, even supposing that men could map out 


the field of knowledge for themselves, determine at 
a glance into what great orders of ideas the past 
thought of the human race could be best distributed 
for the purposes of study, and spontaneously go to 
work upon these in the right spirit, still, in the de- 
tailed prosecution of any study by means of books, 
assistance would be necessary. Accordingly, one use 
of colleges is that they du-ect and systematize reading. 
The art of recommending good books, and of leading 
on from one book to another, is one of the most use- 
ful qualifications of a teacher, and it may be carried 
to extraordinary perfection. Perhaps, indeed, we do 
not sufficiently attend to this function of colleges; per- 
haps we do not sufficiently attend to the fact that, since 
colleges were first instituted, their place in the general 
system of education has been greatly changed. When 
colleges were first instituted, books were scarce and dif- 
ficult of access ; men were then their own encyclo- 
paedias ; and every Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, or 
other ornament of a university, was bound to be a 
walking incarnation of the totum scibile. Hence a 
course of lectures in those days was expected to be — 
whatever might be its other merits — a digest of all 
accessible information on the subject treated. Now, 
however, that there exist, on all subjects, books, which 
it is impossible for even the best living thinker wholly 
to supersede, such lectures of a mere digest and detail 
are out of place ; and the business of teachers is 
rather to direct the reading of the pupils, and to re- 
serve their original disquisitions for those points where 
they can hope to modify and extend what has been 
previously advanced. I am not sure, as I have said, 


that we take this fact of the changed function of oui* 
colleges, consequent upon the enormous increase of 
books, sufficiently along with us in our practice. 

If, in this respect, however, colleges have under- 
gone a change of position, there is another respect 
in which they offer the same advantage as ever. 
Quite as much now, as in those remote times when 
colleges were first set up in Europe, they afford to 
youth that highest of all educational privileges — the 
chance of coming into personal contact with men either 
of original speculative power in their several depart- 
ments, or of unusual fervour and enthusiasm, kind- 
ling into zeal all that come near them, and imparting 
life and fire to all that they touch. I have spoken 
of the wonderful efficacy of this influence casually 
encountered in society ; but it is the very nature of 
colleges to concentrate it and make it accessible. 
Besides, the preceptorial relation is undoubtedly that 
in which this influence acts most intensely. What a 
privilege to have hstened to the disquisitions of Reid 
or Adam Smith ! What a stream of men, notable in 
the intellectual and pohtical world, some of them still 
aUve, came forth from the class-room of Dugald 
Stewart ! I speak feelingly on this matter ; for, in 
my own experience, I have had occasion to know the 
singular power of this element of education. I could 
count up and name at this moment some four or five 
men, to whose personal influence, experienced as a stu- 
dent, I owe more than to any books, and of whom, 
while life lasts, I will always think with gratitude. 
The image of one silver-haired old man, in particular, 
now rises before me — a man not unknown in the 


history of his country — to whose memory, amid 
changing forms of fact and thought, I pay my poor 
tribute of undying veneration. Never, never to be 
forgotten, that face, that form, gazed on so long ! 
Cold now he Hes in a northern grave ; and abroad over 
the British earth, walk thousands who, with me, once 
listened to his voice ; and who, when they too are old 
and move heavily, willlook back,backthrough the mist 
of years, fondly towards him, and the distant time. 

Finally, I beheve there is something in the oral 
method of conveying knowledge, whether afber the 
tutorial or after the professorial fashion, but, perhaps, 
most effective in the latter, which fits it to perform 
certain offices of instruction far better than they 
could be performed by private communion with books. 
I win not enlarge on this topic. I will only say, 
that it appears to me that the forms and circum- 
stantials of oral teaching are such, that anything in 
the shape of a general doctrine or principle is far more 
expeditiously and impressively inculcated in this 
mode, through the ear, than it can usually be taken 
in through the eye; and that, consequently, any 
science, such as pohtical economy, the proper teaching 
of which consists in the slow infiltration into the 
minds of the pupils of a series of such general doctrines, 
one by one, as well as those parts of all sciences which 
consist of massive single propositions, can be best 
taught by lectiu'cs and examinations. Curiously 
enough, this is precisely that function of colleges 
which, after the revolution in our educational system 
caused by the increase of books, would still, at any 
rate, be reserved for them. 

314 DATID MASS02f. 

It were wrong, however, to end on this key. One 
of my colleagues, as many of you know, is in the habit 
of inserting in the prospectus of his classes, a caution 
that he cannot guarantee the proficiency of his stu- 
dents, unless the work done in the classes is supple- 
mented by dihgent and continuous reading at home. 
I am sure we all endorse this caution. And what 
does it mean but this, that, after all, self-education is 
the main work, and college education but a help to it? 
And so, Grentlemen-students, whatever advantages 
your connection with this institution may give to 
you, you are still cast back, with the rest of the 
world, on your own energy and resources, your own 
docihty and quickness in those great schools which 
are open to all — the school of family, the school of 
surrounding nature and life, the school of travel, the 
school of friendship, and the school of books. Even 
in direct connection with this college, you have some 
special facilities for self-education, of which you will 
do weU to avail yourselves. There is a hbrary, where 
means and apphances for private study are not 
wanting ; and in your literary and debating societies 
you have opportunities for caUing forth an influence 
of reciprocal action, to which I, for one, assign great 
value — that of emulous, yet genial intellectual com- 
panionship. Use these means in their degree and 
place. Let us enter on the duties of this session 
\vith zeal ; and may its results prove that, though 
there never was a man of any intellectual worth who 
was not, in the truest sense, self-educated, yet col- 
leges are of some use ! 





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